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Long Road to Release of Names of Priests Accused of Sexual Abuse

Updated: 12/17/2013 9:28 AM
Created: 12/16/2013 11:06 PM KAALtv.com
By: Steph Crock

(ABC 6 News) – Two weeks ago, the Winona Diocese was ordered by a judge to release the names of priests credibly accused of sexual abuse. Thirteen were on that list, and the 14th is actually being criminally charged. The others likely won’t, because the evidence is long gone

Before this year, victims who were sexually abused as children had only until age 24 to report their attackers. That changed with two votes by the Minnesota legislature.

"The law allows them now to come forward and take action and get help,” attorney Jeff Anderson said back in August.

Soon after Governor Dayton signed the bill ending the statute of limitations into law, victims started coming forward.

We spoke with an alleged victim in August who says he was abused by a priest more than 50 years ago

"I felt like I was the person that had done something bad, I was a little kid," Bill Beardmore said.

Beardmore claims he was repeatedly raped by Father Thomas Adamson for a year while he attended school at St. John's Parish in Caledonia.

"I don't know how a priest or a bishop can possibly go to sleep at night and think about what was happening and what they continued to let happen," he said.

But a court ordered list released Monday, shows a number of clergymen within the Winona Diocese had credible claims of sexual misconduct against them.  Father Thomas Admanson is on that list.

"Nine of the 13 are deceased,” Bishop John Quinn said.  “The remaining four that are living, they have been removed from active ministry and have been out of active ministry for many years."

Bishop John Quinn with the Winona Diocese sat down exclusively with ABC 6 News to share his personal feelings on the matter.

"This is a very heavy day for me,” he said.  “I feel very deeply for anyone who's been a victim, who's been hurt by a clergymen.”

He was not in charge of the diocese when the accusations first surfaced, but must now help the church heal, and gain trust with the community

“I have to learn, as bishop, do a better job so that this doesn't happen again," Bishop Quinn said.

We're told the diocese was reluctant to release the names because these men have only been accused of sexual abuse, not formally charged. However; it has prompted a significant change with church policy.

"If anyone contacts me or my staff we will immediately call the agency, the police agency of law enforcement,” he said.  “We do not investigate. That's up to those who are trained, and that's up to those in law enforcement.”

Attorneys with Jeff Anderson and Associates have been spearheading the case and they think this discovery is only the beginning.

 "These are often grossly under reported, so this 13 probably represents a fraction of the number of people that have been abused in the diocese," Michael Anderson with the law firm said.

Bishop Quinn says it has been an extremely difficult process, and he's saddened for the victims.  He just hopes this day brings them some closure.

"Today, I'm hoping, this is in my heart, that this can be the beginning of healing for anyone who's been injured," Bishop Quinn said.

Earlier this month, 34 names from the St Paul – Minneapolis Archdiocese were released. Three served in Southeast Minnesota.

You can view the full list of names from the Winona Diocese and St. Paul Minneapolis Diocese by clicking on the links.