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Diocese Again Tells Half Truths

October 27, 2019

Because of the sensitivity of obtaining information from the Diocese, this website has refrained from publishing information for some time. Thank you for your patience.

 

On August 21st, 2019, Bishop Hoeppner posted a "Voice From the Valley" containing half-truths, that we would like to clarify so people know the full truth. 

 

Diocese Motion to Dismiss

 

(see below for selected excepts from motion to dismiss, and link to full court document below)

 

In the Diocese's own Motion to dismiss these facts are stated:

 

"In approximately 1971, when Plaintiff was approximately 16 years old, Msgr. Grundhaus allegedly engaged in unpermitted sexual contact with Plaintiff in Columbus Ohio, while he accompanied Msgr. Grundhaus to a meeting of canon lawyers."

 

As you read the letter to the faithful by Bishop Heoppner he claims that the allegation is not credible because there was no convention in 1971 in Columbus Ohio. The facts in the motion state in approximately 1971 when the Plaintiff was approximately 16 years old. According to depositions to be released soon, Msgr. Grundhaus admits the “Midwest Regional Canon Law Society Convention” was held in Columbus Ohio April 24-26, 1972. Ron was still a minor just barely 17!

 

Bishop Hoeppner states that because the convention was not in 1971 the allegation is not credible. 

 

Here is the actual statement in the formal complaint against the diocese section 8. (link to formal complaint below)

 

"In approximately 1971, when Plaintiff was approximately 16 years old, Msgr. Grundhaus engaged in unpermitted sexual contact with Plaintiff in Columbus, Ohio, while he accompanied Msgr. Grundhaus to a convention on canon law.   

 

The diocese and Bishop Hoeppner have misled the review board and you the faithful. For them to unequivocally state that because the Canon Law Meeting was not in 1971 the allegation is not credible is another example of coverup and deception by the Diocese. The legal documents do not state an exact date but do state a definite location, Columbus Ohio. Ron’s statement of facts on location and timeline are credible. In fact, they are backed up by Msgr. Grundhaus’s own admission in his public statement. This statement will be published in another posting.

 

Another Lie by the Diocese

 

"According to the terms of the settlement, Msgr. Grundhaus’ name will NOT be included on the list of priests credibly accused. His name will be listed as a priest accused as a result of having been named in a lawsuit."

 

This statement is a lie. Nowhere in the terms of the agreements is it agreed that the names of Sullivan, Richards and Grundhaus will not be included on the list of priests credibly accused. What in fact is the case is the Diocese cannot be forced or compelled to list them as credibly accused as that is a Diocese decision. Not “According to the terms of the agreement.” As you read through these statements you can see that the Diocese in fact does not care about truth and facts instead are determined to mislead the faithful of the Diocese. 

 

The review board should be given all the facts so they can make good decisions based on truth instead of half-truths. 

 

Bishop Hoeppner also states that no other allegations have been received by the Diocese. There are several “victims” who are no longer with us.  These young men have no voice. Only the survivors have a voice and they are still not listened to. It must be the policy of the Diocese that it needs many allegations to be credible. It seems in this age of instant information an allegation has to be on YouTube to be credible!  Why would the Diocese settle if there was no truth to the allegations? They claim they settle to save money. You decide. 

 

Shame on them!

 

 

Bishop Hoeppner statement from August 21, 2019

 

Diocese of Crookston Motion for Dismissal

 

Ron's Formal Complaint

 

 

 

The following are text copies of portions of the above documents. Highlighting is the emphasis of this website. 

 

 

 

Bishop Hoeppner statement from August 21, 2019

 

 

Voice from the Valley

VFTV: August 21, 2019

Wednesday, 21 August 2019

 

On Wednesday, July 17, we announced that a settlement had been reached between claimants represented by Jeff Anderson & Associates and the Diocese of Crookston. The economic facts of the settlement have been reported. As part of the settlement, the diocese agreed to a number of non-economic protocols as well. The diocese agreed to make available for public release the names of all clergy who have worked in the Diocese of Crookston at any time who have been credibly accused of child sexual abuse or possession of child pornography. The diocese also agreed to make available for review and publication by plaintiff’s counsel all documents on Fathers Roger Grundhaus, Patrick Sullivan and Joseph Richards. I want to say something to you about each of these three. 

 

.....

 

Msgr. Roger Grundhaus: In 2017, the Diocese of Crookston was served with a lawsuit in which the claimant asserted that Msgr. Grundhaus sexually abused him at a Canon Law Convention in Columbus, Ohio, in 1971, when the claimant was a minor. Msgr. Grundhaus denies this allegation. At my direction, testimony and evidence was gathered by an independent investigator from outside the diocese. The investigator found that, in fact, there was no Canon Law Convention in Columbus in 1971. This fact and all the testimony gathered in the case, along with the investigator’s report and recommendations, was thereafter presented to the Diocesan Review Board. The Review Board has recommended that Msgr. Grundhaus be reinstated to priestly ministry. No other accusation against Msgr. Grundhaus of sexual abuse of a minor has ever been received by the Diocese of Crookston. According to the terms of the settlement, Msgr. Grundhaus’ name will NOT be included on the list of priests credibly accused. His name will be listed as a priest accused as a result of having been named in a lawsuit.

 

And so, to reiterate: According to the non-economic protocols negotiated as part of the settlement of these cases, ..... The Diocesan Review Board has determined that the accusations made against Father Sullivan and Msgr. Grundhaus are not credible. Therefore, the names of Father Sullivan and Msgr. Grundhaus likewise are not included on the list of priests credibly accused of child sexual abuse of a minor or possession of child pornography but will be listed as priests accused.

 

.....

 


 

Diocese of Crookston Motion for Dismissal

 

 

STATE OF MINNESOTA                                                      DISTRICT COURT

COUNTY OF POLK                                              NINTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT

 

Case Type: Personal Injury

Ronald Vasek,

 

       Plaintiff,                                                           Court File No.60-CV-17-921

v.                                                                                      Judge Kurt J. Marben

 

Diocese of Crookston and Bishop Michael

Joseph Hoeppner,                                                 DEFENDANT DIOCESE OF

                                                               CROOKSTON’S MEMORANDUM OF

      Defendants,                                     LAW IN SUPPORT OF MOTION FOR

                                                              DISMISSAL OF COUNTS III, IV, V, VI,

                                                                                                              AND VII

 

INTRODUCTION

     In this action, Plaintiff Ronald Vasek seeks damages for sexual abuse he alleges occurred in 1971 when he was a minor. The Defendants are the Diocese of Crookston (“Crookston Diocese”) and its Bishop, Michael Joseph Hoeppner. The person whom Plaintiff alleges committed the abuse, Msgr. Roger Grundhaus, is not a party.

     The Crookston Diocese brings this Motion to Dismiss Counts III through VII of the Complaint, which allege negligence, negligent supervision, negligent retention, private nuisance, and public nuisance. Counts I and II are against Bishop Hoeppner, who is represented by

separate counsel.

     In a prior action against the Crookston Diocese, Judge Tamara L. Yon ordered Rule 12 dismissal of public nuisance and private nuisance claims for lack of standing and/or failure to state a claim. (See Jan. 7, 2014 Order in Doe 4 v. Diocese of Crookston et al., No. 60-CV-131261, & Doe 4 Amended Compl., Kate Homolka Aff. Exs. 1-2.) There have been no intervening legal developments. As in Doe 4, the nuisance claims must be dismissed for lack of standing and/or failure to state a claim.

     Counts V-VII are the negligence-based claims. In Doe 4, the Crookston Diocese did not seek Rule 12 dismissal of them because they fit within a three-year window for commencing actions that seek damages for a minor’s sexual abuse irrespective of a statute of limitations. The window closed in May 2016. Plaintiff alleges that he was prevented from bringing his claims due to threats and coercion, which first presented in 2015. (Compl. ¶ 17.) There are no allegations in Plaintiff’s Complaint, and no legal authority, to support a claim that Plaintiff was prevented from bringing the action during the three-year window. Counts V-VII are time-barred.

     Accordingly, Rule 12 dismissal of the claims against the Crookston Diocese is required.

COMPLAINT’S ALLEGATIONS

     The relevant allegations in Plaintiff’s Complaint, which the Court must take at true at this stage, are as follows:

      A. Facts

   Plaintiff attended Holy Trinity in Tabor, Minnesota, in the Diocese of Crookston, where he came in contact with Rev. Msgr. Roger Grundhaus. (Id. ¶ 5.) In approximately 1971, when Plaintiff was approximately 16 years old, Msgr. Grundhaus allegedly engaged in unpermitted sexual contact with Plaintiff in Columbus Ohio, while he accompanied Msgr. Grundhaus to a meeting of canon lawyers. (Id. ¶ 8.) In or about 2009 or 2010, Plaintiff disclosed the abuse to a priest in another diocese while considering becoming a member of the diaconate program in the Diocese of Crookston. (Id. ¶ 9.) That priest reported the alleged abuse to his Vicar General, who contacted Bishop Hoeppner regarding the alleged abuse. (Id.)

    Bishop Hoeppner subsequently scheduled a meeting with Plaintiff. (Id. ¶ 10.) At the meeting, Plaintiff disclosed to Bishop Hoeppner that Msgr. Grundhaus sexually abused him inOhio when Plaintiff was a minor. (Id.) Bishop Hoeppner indicated to Plaintiff it would be detrimental to Msgr. Grundhaus if the accusations were made public. (Id.) Bishop Hoeppner then told Plaintiff not to tell anyone about the abuse. (Id. ¶ 11.)

     In 2011, Plaintiff entered the diaconate program in the Crookston Diocese. (Id. ¶12.) Plaintiff’s son became a priest in the Crookston in approximately 2010. (Id. ¶ 13.)

     In 2015, Plaintiff received a phone call from Bishop Hoeppner inviting him to the Bishop’s private residence for a meeting. (Id. ¶ 14.) Plaintiff alleges the following occurred at that meeting:

When Plaintiff arrived for the meeting, the Bishop indicated to Plaintiff that Msgr. Grundhaus was unable to minister in the other diocese because they had Plaintiff's report of abuse in their files. Bishop Hoeppner handed Plaintiff a letter authored by Msgr. Michael Foltz, Vicar General of the Diocese of Crookston, which essentially retracted Plaintiff's statements regarding the sexual abuse involving Msgr. Grundhaus and indicated that the abuse in Ohio never happened. The Bishop told Plaintiff that he should sign the letter and that they needed it for the Diocese's files. The Bishop indicated to Plaintiff that if he should refuse to sign the letter, the Bishop would have difficulty ordaining Plaintiff as a deacon for the Diocese of Crookston and that Plaintiff's son's priesthood in the Diocese of Crookston would be negatively impacted. Plaintiff perceived this as a threat by the Bishop against both his career as a deacon and his son's priesthood in the Diocese of Crookston.

     (Id. ¶ 14.) Bishop Hoeppner insisted several times that Plaintiff sign the letter despite Plaintiff’s initial refusal. (Id. ¶ 15.) In light of the Bishop’s statement to Plaintiff’s profession as a deacon and his son’s priesthood, Plaintiff felt that he had no choice and eventually signed the letter. (Id.)

    Plaintiff claims that due to Bishop Hoeppner’s threats to Plaintiff’s participation and success in the diaconate program and to his son’s priesthood and his coercion in obtaining Plaintiff’s signature on the letter retracting the report of abuse, Plaintiff was prevented from reporting the incident of abuse by Msgr. Grundhaus to civil authorities and from obtaining legal counsel prior to May 25, 2016, in order to file a timely civil claim under the Minnesota Child Victims Act (Minn. Stat. § 541.073, subd. 5(b). (Id. ¶ 17.)

 

.....

 

 

Ron's Formal Complaint

 

STATE OF MINNESOTA                                                      DISTRICT COURT COUNTY OF POLK                                             NINTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT                                                                                  Case Type: Personal Injury

_____________________________________

 

Ronald Vasek,                                                                             Court File No.:

                      Plaintiff,

                                                                                                      COMPLAINT

vs.

 

Diocese of Crookston and

Bishop Michael Joseph Hoeppner,

                     Defendants.

_____________________________________

 

Plaintiff, for his cause of action against Defendants, alleges that:

.....

 

FACTS

     4. At all times material, Rev. Msgr. Roger Grundhaus (hereinafter “Msgr. Grundhaus”) was a Roman Catholic priest employed by the Diocese of Crookston. Msgr. Grundhaus remained under the direct supervision, employ and control of the Diocese. Defendant Diocese placed Msgr. Grundhaus in positions where he had access to and worked with children as an integral part of his work.

     5. Plaintiff was raised in a devout Roman Catholic family and attended Holy Trinity in Tabor, Minnesota, in the Diocese of Crookston. Plaintiff and his family came in contact with Msgr. Grundhaus as an agent and representative of the Diocese.

     6. Plaintiff participated in youth activities and church activities at Holy Trinity. Plaintiff, therefore, developed great admiration, trust, reverence and respect for the Roman Catholic Church, including the Diocese and their agents, including Msgr. Grundhaus.

     7. During and through these activities, Plaintiff, as a minor and vulnerable child, was dependent on the Diocese and Msgr. Grundhaus. The Diocese had custody of Plaintiff and 3 accepted the entrustment of Plaintiff. The Diocese had responsibility for Plaintiff and authority over him.

     8. In approximately 1971, when Plaintiff was approximately 16 years old, Msgr. Grundhaus engaged in unpermitted sexual contact with Plaintiff in Columbus, Ohio, while he accompanied Msgr. Grundhaus to a convention on canon law.

     9. In approximately 2009 or 2010, Plaintiff disclosed the abuse to a priest in the in another diocese, while Plaintiff was considering becoming a member of the diaconate program in the Diocese of Crookston. The priest from another diocese reported the abuse to the Vicar General of his diocese who then contacted Bishop Hoeppner of the Diocese of Crookston.

     10. Bishop Hoeppner then scheduled an in-person meeting with Plaintiff at the Diocese of Crookston Chancery. During this meeting, Plaintiff told Bishop Hoeppner that Msgr. Grundhaus had sexually abused him when Plaintiff was a minor while attending the convention in Columbus, Ohio. Bishop Hoeppner asked Plaintiff how he was going to proceed with the accusation and whether Plaintiff intended to formally report the abuse or attempt to press charges against Msgr. Grundhaus. Bishop Hoeppner indicated to Plaintiff that it would be detrimental to Msgr. Grundhaus and his reputation in the Diocese if the accusations were made public.

 

TRUTHRONVASEKSTORY will be posting new articles each week for months, so that the story might be told.

 

We will share the story. You decide what you should do.

 

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Have a question or something to contribute? Email Ron's team at truthronvasekstory@gmail.com

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