Ex-student claims sexual abuse by 'secretive' family that ran Catholic school in Waite Park

The former student is suing Holy Innocents Catholic School.
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A former student of a Catholic school in central Minnesota claims she was subjected to sexual abuse by the "secretive" family that founded and ran the school.

The lawsuit filed on Monday named five members of the Sis family at Holy Innocents School in Waite Park, which was founded by Robert and Bernice Sis 50 years ago.

The plaintiff, identified by attorneys Jeff Anderson & Associates as Doe 596, alleges she was subjected to ritual sexual abuse by Robert and Bernice Sis, who have since died, and their three children over a six-year period between 1978 and 1984.

She also claims to have been sexually abused by a priest, Fr. Lawrence Brey, who was assigned to the school during the '70s and '80s and died in 2006.

In a news release from her attorneys, Doe 596 described the private school, which is still in operation, as a "house of horrors," noting the Sis family and Fr. Brey as "strict disciplinarians."

She alleges that the family and priest grew impatient with her struggles to read and memorize scriptures and was told the sexual abuse "was an attempt to rid her of the evil that caused her to be lazy and stupid."

The punishments then "progressed over time to include ritual sex abuse that Brey and the Sises told Doe 596 were for her own good."

She also alleges that her father was threatened by the Sis family if he reported what had happened.

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The lawsuit is seeking for the school to be shut down, calling it a "public nuisance" and saying it still poses a danger to children.

A school employee told the St. Cloud Times that they received the lawsuit Monday morning and said after reviewing it they believe the accusations to be unfounded.

A relative of the Sis family confirmed to KSTP that some of the Sis children, who are named in the suit, still work at the school, and re-iterated their denial of the allegations.

Holy Innocents operates as a nonprofit, private Catholic school that is not affiliated with the Diocese of St. Cloud.

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