Catholic Institution Refuses to Fill the Seat of an Abuse Victim Who Quit
Whistleblower/victim says St. John’s violates promises of 2002 agreement
Support group wants one top official to resign and another to apologize for ‘recklessness’
(Saint Paul, MN) – At a news conference, clergy child molestation victims will harshly criticize officials at a Minnesota Catholic abbey for:
- promoting an accused abuser to be its second-in-command,
- putting him on a board that investigates abuse reports,
- refusing to fill the seat of an abuse victim who quit that board, &
- violating their pledges to be ‘open’ about sexual misconduct.
The victims will call on the abbey’s recently-promoted second-in-command to resign.
Five years ago, officials at St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville settled several child sex abuse cases. As part of the settlement, they agreed to set up a review board to handle misconduct allegations, with at least two clergy-abuse survivors as members. More than a year ago, one of the two victims who’d served in that role resigned (when abbey officials refused to release the names of two known offenders, fearing the effect that might have on their capital campaign). The abbey has refused to replace him, violating its promise and skewing the Board’s composition.
Three months ago, the abbey’s top official, Abbot John Klassen, named Fr. Thomas Andert the Abbey’s new second-in-command, despite three reports of alleged misconduct by Andert. Around the same time, Andert was given a seat on the abuse review board.
In 1995, Klassen’s predecessor wrote an apology letter to a victim of Andert’s. Since 2002, the Abbey has paid for that victim’s counseling. But Klassen has kept this information secret, while also claiming that Andert’s victim “would not come forward.”
In 1994, Andert was the St. John’s prep school’s headmaster. He began grooming a then-teenaged student after the boy attempted suicide. Andert used his position to take the boy out of class and make touch the boy inappropriately (kissing, backrubs, cuddling, and leg rubbing). Andert also changed the student’s grade and gave him liquor in Andert’s on-campus office.
The alleged misconduct was clearly inappropriate and hurtful, especially given the fragile emotional state of the young victim, the alleged celibacy of monks and the spiritual, emotional and actual power that clerics and school administrators have over their charges
Andert also worked at Benilde-St. Margaret High School in a Twin Cities suburb.
Friday, Oct. 26 at 1:15 PM CST
At the law offices of Jeff Anderson
1st National Bank Building (E-1000)
332 Minnesota Street
St. Paul, MN
An attorney, a Washington state man who was victimized at St. John’s (and served on its abuse review board), and the Minnesota director of a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org)
Five handwritten letters from the accused predator to the victim, in which the priest expresses his ‘love’ for the boy, will be provided.