Skip to main content

Former Hastings priest acquitted of sexual abuse charges

  • Author:
  • Updated:
    Original:

A former priest was acquitted Tuesday of charges that he sexually abused a boy at a church in Hastings more than two decades ago.

A Dakota County jury found Francis Hoefgen, 64, not guilty of first degree criminal sexual conduct for allegedly abusing the boy from 1989 to 1992 at the parochial school at St. Boniface Catholic Church, while he was serving as a priest at the parish.

Jurors deliberated about four hours before returning the verdict Tuesday afternoon, the Star Tribune reports. Hoefgen is one of a few clergy members to face criminal charges for abuse that allegedly occurred decades earlier.

Hoefgen’s accuser, a 36-year-old man who lives in Red Wing, testified last week that Hoefgen abused him repeatedly in a room behind the altar at the church, which has since been torn down, the Associated Press reports.

The accuser said the abuse occurred over three years, when he was in fourth through sixth grades, and ended when Hoefgen left the parish, according to the Associated Press. He said he didn't tell anyone about the abuse until 2013.

Hoefgen testified that he didn't remember the boy's name or the room behind the altar, and repeatedly denied that he abused the boy, according to the Star Tribune.

Hoefgen's attorney Michael Colich argued that the prosecutors didn't provide any evidence to back up the claims of the accuser and called their case "a disgrace," the Associated Press notes.

Colich claimed that police and prosecutors jumped to conclusions because the defendant was a Catholic priest.

The accuser in this case filed a civil lawsuit against Hoefgen in 2013.

Hoefgen, who was also a monk at St. John's Abbey in Collegeville, is also the subject of a civil lawsuit against the abbey stemming from abuse allegations against him in 1983.

Hoefgen was assigned to the St. Boniface Parish in Cold Spring at that time when he admitted to sexually abusing a 17-year-old boy. He told police that he abused the teenager and was sent to a treatment program in Maryland for six months. He did not face criminal charges in that case.

The trial judge in Dakota County did not allow evidence of past abuse to be included in the current trial.

Hoefgen was placed on restrictions by St. John's in 2002. He left the priesthood in 2011, and lives in Columbia Heights, the Star Tribune notes.

Next Up

Semi into house near Sturgis, South Dakota

Semi drives into house near Sturgis, South Dakota

The force from the semi was so strong that the foundation of the house was moved.

ambulance

18-year-old from Zumbrota dies in Goodhue County crash

The crash happened in rural Goodhue County around 8:45 a.m. Wednesday.

thomas beach, bde maka ska - lake calhoun

3 Minneapolis beaches closed due to E. coli contamination

No illnesses have been reported, according to the MPRB.

Hockeyland1

'Hockeyland' documentary debuting in Minnesota movie theaters

The documentary has received great reviews at numerous film festivals.

Flickr - police lights squad siren - Edward Kimmel

Former Minnesota Olympic runner accused of driving drunk in Eden Prairie crash

Police said the man's blood alcohol level was three times the legal limit.

ATV

Man, 79, killed in ATV rollover near Faribault

The man was declared dead at the scene.

minneapolis police

Woman fighting for her life after shooting in Minneapolis

The woman was shot only about a half-hour after a 14-year-old suffered critical injuries in an apparent accidental discharge.

prior lake high school

Two students face discipline over racist messages at Prior Lake High School

Families and students were largely uncooperative with the investigation.

Sharon and Herb Vasser

Cause of Hopkins house explosion that killed couple revealed

Sharon and Herb Vassar were killed in the explosion. Herb built the home back in 1962.

Arrows on target

Charges: Minnesota camp counselor fired arrows at kids, injuring boy

An 8-year-old boy was shot in the arm with an arrow.

North Shore Mayor Chris Swanson.

Two Harbors votes overwhelmingly to recall Mayor Chris Swanson

The mayor had been scrutinized for several things leading up to the vote Tuesday.

Screen Shot 2022-08-10 at 8.43.50 AM

Suspected gunman at large after homicide near Albert Lea

The 32-year-old suspect was last seen in a 2004 white Ford F-150 with Minnesota license number EUZ-057.

Related