Southern Minnesota connection to singer Sinead O’Connor

(ABC 6 News) – An attorney with connections to southern Minnesota is mourning the loss of his friend, singer-songwriter Sinead O’Connor.

Jeff Anderson is a St. Paul based attorney. His firm, is one of the nation’s premiere law firms representing victims of clergy sex abuse. He’s been working with victims for close to 40 years.

“One of my first cases was with the Diocese of Winona and father Adamson,” Anderson said.

Adamson worked as a priest in Rochester and other small towns across southern Minnesota for decades. He’s admitted to sexual abusing multiple boys. Experts believe his number of victims could be as high as 100.

A number of years after Anderson began his quest to hold the Catholic church and abusive priests accountable, he watched a singer on Saturday Night Live do something he knew would would decimate her career.

“It was Sinead O’Connor and she ripped up a picture of the Pope,” Anderson said. “I knew exactly what was going to happen to her. It made her a Villain.”

It was a message the world wasn’t ready to hear. The backlash was swift and strong. O’Connor’s career never recovered. It wasn’t long after that, Anderson got a phone call.

“It was Sinead,” he said. “She told me she’d been following my work and she wanted me to sue the Vatican.”

Over the next thirty years, the two bonded and formed a friendship as they shared a mission to hold the church accountable and get justice for the victims.

“She was a prophet in my eyes,” Anderson said.

While O’Connor’s career never recovered from the SNL appearance, Anderson’s has thrived. He’s represented victims across the country.

“Over the years, probably as many as 10,000 I’ve known about,” he said.

A settlement reached with the Diocese of Winona in 2021 secured $28 million for victims in southern Minnesota. The most recent settlement out of New York State was worth $100 million. But money isn’t Anderson’s motivation, and he knows it wasn’t the motivation of his friend, Sinead.

“It took tremendous courage for her to be one of those early, lonely voices for the voiceless,” Anderson said. “She was a champion.”

And one he hopes the world never forgets.