New lawsuit seeks list of New Ulm Diocese clergy
DULUTH – The Diocese of New Ulm has been named in another lawsuit alleging sex abuse by a priest serving the diocese in the Lake Lillian area in 1977.
Attorneys with Jeff Anderson & Associates and another alleged victim spoke at a press conference in Duluth Wednesday, calling for the Diocese of New Ulm to release a list of priests with credible accusations of sex abuse.
“Right now the Diocese of New Ulm stands alone in not releasing its list of credibly accused offenders,” said Mike Finnegan of the Anderson law firm.
Finnegan represents the anonymous victim, Doe 30, in a civil lawsuit filed Tuesday in Ramsey County. The suit claims Doe 30 was a young boy attending St. Thomas More Parish in Lake Lillian when he met Fr. J. Vincent Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald is accused of taking Doe 30 on a trip to Squaw Lake, MN, where he sexually abused Doe 30 at St. Catherine’s Parish in the Duluth diocese, according to the suit.
The Diocese of New Ulm issued a statement Wednesday saying that Fitzgerald came to the New Ulm Diocese in Willmar in 1977 where he participated in a Clinical Pastoral Education program, and also did parish work at St. Thomas More. He left the diocese in May of 1978, and had not lived in or served in the diocese since then. Fitzgerald died in 2009.
“The Diocese of New Ulm deeply regrets the long-lasting and devastating effects of sexual misconduct on the part of clergy. Such misconduct requires positive action on our part, and we have been strengthening our systems and procedures in order to address this grave issue,” a statement from the Diocese said.
“The Diocese of New Ulm has been diligent in its efforts to establish a safe environment program that educates clergy, diocesan and parish staff, teachers, parents, students, and volunteers who work with youth, and that helps them identify and prevent sexual misconduct. We are committed to offering help and healing to anyone who has been a victim of sexual misconduct and to preventing this terrible crime from occurring in the diocese.
“Anyone who has suffered sexual abuse, exploitation, or harassment by a priest, deacon, or pastoral administrator of the Diocese of New Ulm is asked to report such misconduct to law enforcement or to contact the Victim Assistance Coordinator or the Bishop’s Delegate in Matters Pertaining to Sexual Misconduct, 1400 6th Street North, New Ulm, MN 56073; phone: 507-359-2966.”