The Free Press, Mankato, MN

December 12, 2013

Diocese faces new child molestation suit

Priest accused of molesting boy while in Granite Falls

By Dan Nienaber
dnienaber@mankatofreepress.com

---- — MANKATO — A priest who died in Ireland while awaiting trial for raping a 15-year-old boy in 1968 has been named in a new lawsuit against the Diocese of New Ulm claiming he sexually assaulted a Granite Falls boy while in the United States to be treated for pedophilia.

The attorneys announcing the lawsuit — Michael Finnegan of Jeff Anderson and Associates and Michael Bryant of Bradshaw and Bryant — also repeated their request to have the diocese release a list of 12 priests who have been accused of sexually molesting children.

The request was made in a similar lawsuit against the diocese, but the diocese will argue against the list being released in a hearing before District Court Judge Robert Docherty during a Jan. 6 hearing. The priest named in that lawsuit is David Roney. The two victims reported they were molested by Roney while attending a Catholic school in Benson.

Last week Archbishop John Nienstedt released a list of 32 priests accused of sexual abuse while working at churches within the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. That list wasn't released until a court order was issued.

Nienstedt was serving as the bishop of the New Ulm Diocese in 2003 when he admitted a dozen priests were in that diocese who had been accused of molesting children, Finnegan said during a news conference Thursday in Mankato. He refused to name those priests then and the current bishop for the diocese, John LeVoir, is fighting the list's release through the court cases.

"For the last decade (Nienstedt) and the current bishop have kept those names secret," Finnegan said.

That type of secrecy has allowed priests accused of molesting children to be moved to different parishes where, as in the allegations against Markey, they were able to sexually assault others.

The lawsuit announced Thursday, which does not name the victim, is the second naming the Diocese of New Ulm and Francis Markey, who was 84 when he died in Ireland awaiting trial last year. A lawsuit filed by Minnetonka attorney Pat Noaker in June claims the diocese should have known Markey was a sex offender when he was assigned to work at a church in Henderson about 30 years ago. A former member of the church reported Markey sexually assaulted him twice, once at the church and once in a car while driving to his family's rural home for dinner, when he was 15 years old.

The new lawsuit filed Finnegan and Bryant claims Markey sexually abused an 8-year-old boy while serving as a priest at St. Andrew's Church in Granite Falls in 1982, which is under the Diocese of New Ulm. The victim is not living in Nevada.

After several reports that Markey had sexually assaulted children in Ireland, he was sent to the Servant of the Paraclete facility in New Mexico in 1981 to be treated for pedophilia. Prior to that he had been sent to sex offender treatment facilities in Ireland three times between 1964 and 1975 because he had been accused of sexually assaulting teen boys.

The Servant of the Paraclete also is named a defendant in the new lawsuit. Finnegan and Bryant said they will be requesting information from that facility because they believe dozens of Minnesota priests were treated there. Other Minnesota priests have been sent to a facility called St. Luke Institute in Maryland, which opened in the 1980s, to be treated for pedophilia, Finnegan said.

During his treatment in New Mexico, Markey was sent to the Regional Treatment Center in Willmar to take classes to qualify as a substance abuse counselor, Rev. Douglas Grams of New Ulm said after the Henderson case was filed. He also said the diocese had no record of Markey serving in Henderson.

Finnegan said Thursday he doesn't believe that is possible.

"The bishop had to know," he said. "There is no way he works at a church without a bishop knowing about it."

If it is true, it should be "alarming" that a priest being treated for pedophilia was allowed to work at a church without the bishop's or the congregation's knowledge, Bryant said.

In a statement issued Thursday, the diocese said Markey was only in the area for about six months. He did do temporary parish work while attending the Willmar education program, it said. It didn't mention the Henderson church, but it did say there is a record of Markey serving in Granite Falls.

"For about three months in the spring of 1982, Fr. Markey served at the Church of St. Andrew in Granite Falls following the death of the church's pastor," the release said. "Fr. Markey left the Diocese of New Ulm in June of 1982. Since that time, Fr. Markey did not live in or serve the diocese in any capacity."

The judge who ordered the list of Twin Cities priests to be released also issued an order requiring the Diocese of Winona to release a list of 13 priests who were identified in 2003 as being accused molesting children. Tuesday is the deadline for that list to be released.

Those priests served in southeastern Minnesota at churches between Mankato and Winona.

"I am anticipating there will be some perpetrators on that list that worked here in Mankato," Finnegan said.