Lawsuit alleges sexual abuse by priest at West St. Paul church


A woman is claiming a priest at a West St. Paul church sexually abused her when she was a young girl, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday.

The woman, identified as "Doe 23" in court documents, is suing the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis for allegedly failing to protect her from Rev. Robert Thurner at the Church of St. Joseph, Minnesota Public Radio reports.

The lawsuit said Thurner admitted to sexual misconduct involving two underage boys in the late 1960s and early 1970s, but the archdiocese transferred Thurner to St. Joseph's, according to the Pioneer Press, instead of removing him from ministry.

Thurner retired in 1991 and resides at an assisted living facility in Maplewood, the newspaper said.

The woman's attorney, Jeffrey Anderson, filed lawsuits in the early 1990s on behalf of the two male victims. MPR says both cases resulted in settlements for undisclosed amounts of money.

Since multiple allegations of clergy sexual misconduct recently surfaced, a task force was created to look into how the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has handled the claims.

During Sunday service at the Church of the Assumption in St. Paul, Rev. Stephen O'Gara demanded an explanation on the sexual abuse scandal from Archbishop John Nienstedt, MPR said in a separate report.

"He needs to stand before us and explain himself," O'Gara said. "This is not some small matter. This is a big deal. It's the first time, I must say, in 69 years that I'm embarrassed to be Catholic."

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