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Winona Diocese sued, man alleges he was abused by priest in 1960s

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A 61-year-old man spoke publicly Thursday about abuse by a priest he suffered as an altar boy in the 1960s at Caledonia’s St. John’s Parish, the Winona Daily News reports.

“I feel like I have been through the ringer,” Bill Beardmore told the newspaper. “The Diocese made me feel like the bad person in all this. There needs to be accountability.”

Beardmore, who now lives in Boone, Iowa, is among a number of men who sued the diocese in a lawsuit filed this week, accusing top officials of allowing priests continued access to children, despite reports that the priests had had inappropriate sexual contact with boys, the Rochester Post Bulletin reports.

The lawsuit seeks damages in excess of $50,000, and it accuses former priest Thomas Adamson of sexual battery, the Post Bulletin reports. It also seeks the release of a list of 13 "credibly accused child predators" from the diocese, the newspaper reports.

The lawsuit was filed by St. Paul lawyer Jeff Anderson, who has repeatedly called on the Catholic Church to release the names of priests accused of alleged abuse.

The lawsuit was made possible by a new state law that removes a statute of limitations in such abuse cases, and permits lawsuits against organizations that may have hidden child sexual abuse decades ago.

The Winona Diocese declined comment Thursday. But KAAL reports that the diocese released a statement that said, “The Diocese of Winona is committed to the protection and safety of children and young people in its care.” The Diocese also said in the statement that "the Diocese had removed all priests who have been credibly accused of sexual misconduct of a minor from active ministry."

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