MPR: Church paid 'Polka Padre' after jury sided with sex abuse victim


MPR has yet more revelations about alleged sexual misconduct and coverups within the Catholic church in Minnesota.

Today, the news station reveals that the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis made payments to a former priest who was accused of sexual misconduct that included taking boys to saunas – even after a jury in 1996 awarded a victim $1 million in what was the biggest clergy sex abuse case in Minnesota history.

An appellate court the next year overturned the verdict due to the statute of limitations, and the victim got a bill from the church for legal expenses, MPR notes.

Now MPR has details about church payments that subsequently went to the Rev. Robert Kapoun, once known to many as the "Polka Padre" who publicly charmed parishioners with his accordion at "polka masses" across the state. Privately, he was taking boys to saunas, rectories and a secluded cabin in Cold Spring where he sexually assaulted them, according to court testimony, MPR reports. Parents had complained but archdiocese officials did little to stop him.

MPR says that a year after the trial, the archdiocese paid him a "medical retirement" check for $957 a month in addition to his regular pension of $1,510 monthly. Kapoun now lives in a half-million dollar lakefront property in Cold Spring and has a second house in Florida. "I'm very happy," the 74-year-old told MPR.

The story is part of a broader investigation by MPR into abuse scandals that went largely ignored by the archdiocese.

MPR has also revealed that St. Paul police have reopened an investigation into whether the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis for years hid child pornography that it had discovered in one of its priest's possession.

MPR's story about a former top accountant for the archdiocese, who alleged that church payments were made to nine priests suspected of misconduct, led the church to admit it had made the "support" payments in hopes the priests would not reoffend.

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