Documents reveal St. John's monk sexually abused dozens of teens


Documents released Tuesday as part of a settlement in a clergy abuse lawsuit show a monk who served at St. John's Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota, admitted he had more than 200 sexual encounters – some with St. John's students he was counseling.

The documents were released by attorney Jeffrey Anderson, who represents Troy Bramlage, who sued St. John's after being sexually abused by a different priest at the school in the 1970s.

That lawsuit was settled in April, and it included a requirement that St. John’s Abbey release the files of 19 monks who were "credibly accused" of sexually abusing children.

The files of five of those priests were made public today, including that of Rev. Finian McDonald, who was a counselor and prefect at St. John's for some 20 years. He "used his position to prey on and sexually exploit vulnerable students," Anderson said.

According to the documents, McDonald told a psychologist in 2012 that he had about 200 sexual partners over the years, at St. John's and in Thailand and Japan, where he served for periods of time. Most of his victims were teenagers – some as young as 13 or 14.

McDonald also told the psychologist he had abused alcohol for decades, the Star Tribune reports.

The files of four other St. John's clergy – Richard Eckroth, Thomas Gillespie, Francis Hoefgen and Bruce Wollmering – were also released.

Hoefgen, who has left the priesthood, was acquitted earlier this year on charges he sexually abused an altar boy at a church in Hastings.

The abbey issued a written statement in response to the document release, saying it "accepts full responsibility" for the abuses that have been committed, noting that the documents acknowledge "the very real failures of some monks while showing each of the accused monks as a fallible, relatable person."

The Abbey also said it didn't try to cover up the allegations and "did a reasonable job of managing the monk and the problem."

At least a dozen other clergy abuse cases against St. John’s Abbey are still pending, according to Anderson's law office.

Survivors of sexual abuse that occurred decades ago have been able to sue and seek damages under the state's Child Protection Act, which created a three-year window for legal action that expires in about six months, FOX 9 notes.

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