Church files on 5 clergy sex abuse cases released; St. John's Abbey sued

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St. Paul attorney Jeffrey Anderson publicly released church documents related to child sex abuse cases against five monks at St. John's Abbey Monday.

The Star Tribune reports the files were among documents the Catholic Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis provided to Anderson, who represents a man suing the Archdiocese over sexual abuse allegations.

Anderson also filed a new lawsuit in Stearns County District Court claiming a monk abused two boys at a cabin during the 1970's and seeking the release of all of the Abbey's files on alleged abusers.

Both lawsuits claim church officials put the public at risk by transferring sexually abusive priests to new parishes.

WCCO says the five monks whose files were released Monday include two who have died, while the other three left or were removed from the ministry.

Allegations that they had sexually abused boys during the 1970s had already been made public and St. John's Abbey identified them last December in a list of 18 monks the Abbey said had likely committed abuse.

As KSTP reports, Anderson says the files provided by the Archdiocese were heavily redacted and the new lawsuit seeks release of the complete files on all of the monks the Abbey identified as likely abusers.

See Anderson's news conference below.

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The new lawsuit claims Rev. Richard Eckroth abused two boys who were parishoners at the Church of St. Joseph in the early '70s. Eckroth died in 1983. Former monk Patrick Wall, who served at St. John's, claims the Order of St. Benedict reassigned Eckroth after learning he was suspected of abuse.

The St. Cloud Times reports the Abbey released a statement in response to the lawsuit. The Abbey says sorting out the truth is complicated by Eckroth's dementia. The statement notes conflicting testimony regarding the allegations against Eckroth. It also notes the procedures St. John's has developed to respond to allegations of abuse and concludes "We are committed to doing everything possible to assure that the mistakes of our past are not repeated."

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