The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

June 18, 2013

Priest who served in area accused of sex abuse

An Irish priest sent to the United States in 1981 to be treated for pedophilia by the Roman Catholic Church is being accused of sexually assaulting teenage boys in southern Minnesota during his brief time at a church in Henderson.

The allegations of one of those victims, identified as John Doe 103, are included in a lawsuit filed Tuesday against the Diocese of New Ulm. The lawsuit claims Francis Markey, who died last year while awaiting trial in Ireland for raping a 15-year-old boy in 1968, sexually assaulted the Henderson area victim in 1982 while temporarily serving at a church there.

Markey was 84 when he died, which means he would have been about 54 when he was in Minnesota.

Pat Noaker, the Minnetonka attorney who filed the lawsuit, said the victim reported the sexual assaults to him about three years ago. A lawsuit couldn't be filed then because the incident was too old for Minnesota's statute of limitations laws at the time. Those laws were eased when the state Legislature passed the Child Victims Act earlier this year.

The lawsuit claims the victim, who was 15 at the time, was groped and fondled by Markey. The assaults allegedly happened in the St. Joseph Catholic Church in Henderson and in a car while they were driving to the victim's rural residence for dinner with his family.

The diocese is being sued because officials there should have known about Markey's long history of sexually assaulting teen boys, Noaker said.

A spokesman for the diocese, Rev. Douglas Grams of New Ulm, said there is no record of Markey serving as a priest in Henderson. Markey was at the Regional Treatment Center in Willmar at the time to take classes to become a substance abuse counselor, Grams said. So it is possible that he was briefly assigned to the church.

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