Posted: Oct 29, 2013 2:33 PM EST Updated: Oct 29, 2013 8:44 PM EST
posted by Shelby Capacio
ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) – St. Paul attorney Jeff Anderson unveiled another lawsuit on Tuesday in a growing clergy sex abuse scandal, naming both Father Robert M. Thurner and the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis as defendants.
Anderson filed the lawsuit on behalf of a woman in her 30s who says she was sexually abused by Thurner when she was a young girl at St. Joseph’s parish in West St. Paul in the mid-1980s.
The suit seeks unspecified damages over $50,000 and an order to compel the archdiocese to release the names of all priests who have been credibly accused of molesting children.
Anderson said the alleged victim, Doe 23, was 7 or 8 years old when she was abused, and had been attending St. Joseph’s School. He said fresh public criticism fueled by recent news reports over the handling of sex abuse cases led the woman to come forward.
The lawsuit also accuses the archdiocese of neglect for “allowing Thurner continued access to children even after Thurner admitted in 1982, to then-Archbishop John Roach, that he sexually abused a 16-year-old boy and purchased alcohol for the boy,” a news release said.
The suit alleges that instead of referring the case involving the teen boy to police, church officials instead chose to transfer Thurner to St. Joseph’s despite knowing he was a danger to children based on his previous confession.
To support this claim, attorneys released internal documents and memos between Thurner and top officials in the archdiocese, including depositions of Thurner, Msgr. Jerome Boxleitner and Rev. Robert Carlson, who is now the archbishop of St. Louis.
Thurner worked at several parishes in Minnesota between 1951 and 1991, including those in St. Paul, Prior Lake, Hopkins, West St. Paul and Bloomington. He retired after he was named in a lawsuit alleging sexual abuse.
No criminal charges were ever filed against Thurner, who currently has no listed phone number.
The archdiocese did not immediately comment on the filing, but a spokesman told the Associated Press via e-mail that Thurner is believed to be “dealing with some serious and advanced elderly issues.” Officials from the archdiocese in St. Louis also did not offer comment on the lawsuit.
In a news release, Anderson said the case will reveal both internal documents and memos between Thurner and top officials in the Archdiocese as well as share information from prior depositions of Thurner, Msgr. Jerome Boxleitner, and St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson.
The Minnesota Legislature’s decision to allow a 3-year window in the statute of limitations has allowed childhood victims to file lawsuits against their abusers.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.