Minnesota diocese settles in lawsuit against Bishop Hoeppner

(NCR Online) The Diocese of Crookston, Minnesota, has settled one part of a lawsuit brought by a deacon candidate who accused his bishop of coercing him into silence about alleged sexual abuse by a past vicar general.

The rural northwestern Minnesota diocese announced Sept. 20 that a settlement had been reached on charges brought by Ronald Vasek against Bishop Michael Hoeppner. In May, Vasek sued Hoeppner on counts of coercion and intentional infliction of emotional distress, in addition to bringing negligence and public nuisance claims against the diocese.

The settlement closed the charges brought personally against the bishop, with Hoeppner agreeing to pay Vasek an undisclosed financial sum, as well as providing a letter signed by Vasek at the center of the case. A copy of the letter was released Sept. 28 by Vasek’s attorney Jeff Anderson.

In a statement Sept. 20, the Crookston Diocese said, “The settlement agreement does not constitute any admission of unlawful conduct or wrong doing by Bishop Hoeppner.”

The coercion charge was a first brought against a U.S. bishop, said Anderson, who described it as “a bold, we thought justified, claim.” [More]


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