St. Paul Archdiocese names nine more priests accused of abuse

(Star Tribune) The names of nine more priests accused of sexually abusing minors were made public Monday by the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, just one day before a court deadline to identify all accused priests.

The fact that most of the priests were already known, the subject of at least four lawsuits with dozens of victims, prompted victims’ advocates to ask why the men weren’t on a list released in December.

The names were released the day after a Ramsey County District Court Judge denied a request by the archdiocese to delay enforcing an order to release names of all priests accused of abuse — not just “credibly accused” — and to block attorneys from taking testimony under oath from Archbishop John Nienstedt and former Vicar General Kevin McDonough.

The archdiocese had requested the delay while it appeals the order to the Minnesota Court of Appeals. While it is ordered to file the names of the accused priests with Ramsey District Court, the names will be under seal.

The now former priests include Michael Kolar, who was assistant director of the Catholic Youth Center in St. Paul for nearly 20 years; Gerald Funcheon, a former Anoka priest who has admitted to abusing nearly 50 boys; and Kenneth LaVan, who transferred through nine parishes before retiring in 1998.

In a statement announcing the names, the archdiocese said the release is part of its ongoing commitment to addressing clergy misconduct.

“We are making these disclosures as part of the ongoing review of clergy personnel files conducted by Kinsale Management Consulting,” said the statement. The archdiocese hired Kinsale to review the files following a wave of lawsuits alleging clergy misconduct that were filed last year. More names may be forthcoming.

But victims’ attorneys charge that the disclosures were made because of court pressure. Ramsey District Court Judge John Van de North had ordered the archdiocese to release in December the names of all priests credibly accused of abuse before 2002. Nearly all the names on the list released Monday should have been included on that list, they argued. “This [today’s list] underscores how deficient and defective the archdioceses’ whole internal process has been,” said Jeff Anderson, the St. Paul attorney whose lawsuit sparked the release of the names. “This is all information they’ve had for years. They’re only rolling it out now because the heat is on.”

Archdiocese spokesman Jim Accurso agreed that seven of the nine names on the list should have been among those made public in December. Their omission was discovered by the archdiocese’s ongoing clergy file review, he said, and that’s why they were released Monday. [More]

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