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Former Priest Admits to Sexually Abusing 12 Teens, Lawyers Say There's More

Updated: 06/12/2014 3:47 PM
Created: 06/11/2014 10:48 PM KAALtv.com
By: Jenna Lohse

(ABC 6 News) -- In a sworn deposition released today Thomas Adamson, who currently lives in Rochester, talks openly about sexually abusing young teens. This includes at least one at Lourdes High School while he was principal.

The abuse happened decades ago and Adamson is at the center of a civil lawsuit. But because so much time has passed, he can't be punished in a criminal court.

"How many kids, minors, do you estimate you engaged in sexual contact with while you were a priest?” asked Jeff Anderson, the alleged victims’ attorney. “That would be just a guess, several,” Thomas Adamson replied under oath.

Former priest Thomas Adamson admits sexually abusing at least 12 teens from the 1960's to the mid 1980's.

"While you were at St. Adrian and Lourdes?” Anderson asked.  

“I think that got more involved, it probably started with masturbation and developed from there,” Adamson replied.  

“Give us specifically how it developed and what was done by you.” Anderson asked.

“Well, it was more frequent and probably included oral sex,” Adamson replied.

We spoke with Jeff Anderson, the attorney representing the abuse victims who've filed a civil lawsuit against the Diocese of Winona and the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, for which Adamson served.

"I believe that law enforcement need to look at prosecuting the top officials for their failure to report when they could have and should have, all they did is transfer him and keep it quiet,” said Anderson.

Jim Keenan accuses Adamson of molesting him and decided not to watch the deposition. He reserves his harshest words not for Adamson, but for the church officials who oversaw him. "I’m angered, I’m angered at the fact that the hierarchy just said, didn't happen,” said Jim Keenan.

Attorney Jeff Anderson estimates Adamson abused at least 40 children and there may be more who haven't come forward.

Bill Beardmore says he was repeatedly raped and molested by Adamson while attending school at St. Johns Parish in Caledonia. He shared his story with us last summer. "I felt like I was the person that had done something bad, I was a little kid, I was an altar boy,” said Bill Beardmore, who accuses Adamson of Abuse.

Adamson hasn't admitted to abusing Beardmore, but in his deposition, he's appears unapologetic about the abuse of others.

"Did you realize look I’m a priest, I’m an adult. This is a kid. This is a crime. Did that go through your head?” asked Anderson. “Never I don't think. I look at it as more of a sin than a crime,” replied Adamson.

Adamson was removed from ministry in 1985 and defrocked in 2009. We reached out to the diocese of Winona, but it didn't have anyone available for comment.

To view more of Thomas Adamson's deposition, click on featured links on our website.

The abuse happened decades ago and Adamson is at the center of a civil lawsuit. But because so much time has passed, he can't be punished in a criminal court.

"How many kids, minors, do you estimate you engaged in sexual contact with while you were a priest?” asked Jeff Anderson, the alleged victims’ attorney. “That would be just a guess, several,” Thomas Adamson replied under oath.

Former priest Thomas Adamson admits sexually abusing at least 12 teens from the 1960's to the mid 1980's.

"While you were at St. Adrian and Lourdes?” Anderson asked.  

“I think that got more involved, it probably started with masturbation and developed from there,” Adamson replied.  

“Give us specifically how it developed and what was done by you.” Anderson asked.

“Well, it was more frequent and probably included oral sex,” Adamson replied.

We spoke with Jeff Anderson, the attorney representing the abuse victims who've filed a civil lawsuit against the Diocese of Winona and the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, for which Adamson served.

"I believe that law enforcement need to look at prosecuting the top officials for their failure to report when they could have and should have, all they did is transfer him and keep it quiet,” said Anderson.

Jim Keenan accuses Adamson of molesting him and decided not to watch the deposition. He reserves his harshest words not for Adamson, but for the church officials who oversaw him. "I’m angered, I’m angered at the fact that the hierarchy just said, didn't happen,” said Jim Keenan.

Attorney Jeff Anderson estimates Adamson abused at least 40 children and there may be more who haven't come forward.

Bill Beardmore says he was repeatedly raped and molested by Adamson while attending school at St. Johns Parish in Caledonia. He shared his story with us last summer. "I felt like I was the person that had done something bad, I was a little kid, I was an altar boy,” said Bill Beardmore, who accuses Adamson of Abuse.

Adamson hasn't admitted to abusing Beardmore, but in his deposition, he's appears unapologetic about the abuse of others.

"Did you realize look I’m a priest, I’m an adult. This is a kid. This is a crime. Did that go through your head?” asked Anderson. “Never I don't think. I look at it as more of a sin than a crime,” replied Adamson.

Adamson was removed from ministry in 1985 and defrocked in 2009. We reached out to the diocese of Winona, but it didn't have anyone available for comment.

You can view parts of Adamson's deposition by clicking here or read the full transcript here.

We reached out to the Diocese of Winona for comment. Spokesman Joel Hennessey responded... "Bishop Quinn is currently at a U.S. Bishop’s Conference in New Orleans.  He is aware of today’s developments and plans to speak to us (ABC 6 News) when he is back next week.