Former priest who worked in several area parishes accused of sexual abuse

Published 10:34 am Thursday, May 30, 2013

Former Austin Rev. speaks out against alleged sex crimes

A former priest who served a stint at an Albert Lea church in the 1960s is facing multiple allegations of sexual abuse against children over a 20-year period.

St. Paul lawyer Jeff Anderson on Wednesday announced he filed a civil lawsuit on behalf of a 51-year-old Twin Cities man, against former Rev. Thomas Adamson.

Adamson served at Albert Lea’s St. Theodore Catholic Church in 1967 and 1968, during which he was also the chaplain of Lea College, an institution of higher learning on the west side of Albert Lea that closed in 1973. He came to the city from an administrative position in Hammond, Minn., and after leaving Albert Lea, he was moved to St. Lawrence O’Toole in Fountain, Minn., and St. Kilian’s in Wykoff.

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A news release from the Jeff Anderson & Associates firm states Adamson was moved to 15 locations during a 20-year period, allegedly molesting boys in almost every parish he served.

It also alleges the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis and the Diocese of Winona concealed or ignored Adamson’s alleged abuse of children, in turn endangering children and the public safety.

“Today marks another step toward holding institutions accountable for protecting abusers instead of protecting kids,” said Jim Fitzpatrick, a retired priest who served at Austin’s Queen of Angels Church in the early 1970s. Fitzpatrick reported abuse by Adamson in 1963.

“Instead of removing Father Adamson after he admitted to abusing numerous boys, the Archdiocese and the Diocese of Winona moved him from parish to parish and allowed him to continue his pattern of abuse,” he said.

Fitzpatrick reported Adamson’s alleged abuse to the bishop after hearing accusations from parents in Winona. He later heard about more accusations from parents in Caledonia and said Adamson’s actions were “common knowledge” among priests. Fitzpatrick said the Diocese appeared to have moved Adamson to a new parish, as far as they could, each time new allegations arose.

The lawsuit was the first filed under the new Minnesota Child Victims Act, signed into law last week, which eliminates the civil statute of limitations for sexual abuse victims.

It also seeks the disclosure of 46 priests from the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis and the Diocese of Winona, who had “credible complaints” of sexual abuse made against them.

Anderson said the state’s children continue to be at great peril until the list is released.

“Once the list is released, we can make sure sexual abuse is not being swept under the rug and that all victims of abuse in Minnesota can begin to heal,” Anderson said.

Both the Winona diocese and the Twin Cities archdiocese said they are committed to ensuring children’s safety.

— The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Rev. Adamson served in the following places

—1958-61: St. Casimir Parish and Cotter High School in Winona

—1961-62: St. Adrian Parish and St. Adrian’s High School in Adrian

—1962-63: Lourdes High School, Rochester

—1963-64: St. John’s Parish, Caledonia

—1964-67: Lourdes High School, Rochester

—1966-67: Administrator, Hammond

—1967-68: St. Theodore Catholic Church and Lea College, Albert Lea

—1968-71: St. Lawrence O’Toole, Fountain; St. Kilian’s, Wykoff

—1971-74: St. Francis, Rochester

—1975: Graduate studies, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis

—1975-76: St. Leo the Great, St. Paul

—1976: St. Boniface, St. Bonifacius

—1976-79: St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Paul Park

—1979-80: Immaculate Conception, Columbia Heights

—1981-85: Risen Savior, Apple Valley

—Source: News release from Jeff Anderson & Associates