By Sierra Lammi – [email protected]
A sexual abuse case filed against the St. John’s Abbey in 2014 was recently settled.
The sexual abuse survivors sued the St. John’s Abbey on the charges of negligence relating to Rev. Richard Eckroth, who passed away in 2015. The lawsuit claimed that Eckroth allegedly sexually abused two boys who were parishioners at the church of St. Joseph in the 1970s.
The case was set to go to trial in Stearns County earlier this week, but before it did a settlement was reached.
The terms of the settlement have not been disclosed, and everyone associated with the St. John’s Abbey is legally prohibited from speaking about the status of the case. Brother Dennis Beach offered some insight about the case.
“While the terms of the settlement itself prevent St. John’s from commenting, we are satisfied with the outcome,” Beach said via email.
Brother Aelred Senna, the spokesperson for the St. John’s Abbey, explained that if anyone from St. John’s comments on the case it would be considered a violation of the terms of the settlement.
The attorney for the two victims, Jeff Anderson of the firm Jeff Anderson and Associates, has settled more than one sexual misconduct case against the Abbey.
Anderson spoke to the St. Cloud Times in an article published on April 28 about this most recent case settlement. In that article Anderson said, while there was still a lot of work to do, this settlement and work with the St. John’s Abbey will help progress other lawsuits. Anderson also mentioned that the survivors, whom he represents, were given a little peace of mind with the settlement of the trial.
This is not the first time that the St. John’s Abbey has had allegations concerning sexual misconduct against minors. While there have been no claims of any misconduct that took place in the last 20 years, 2011 files with information about monks who have credible charges against them regarding sexual misconduct toward minors were made public. These files were released by the the St. John’s Abbey in order to promote transparency. Many of these sexual misconduct cases were filed only recently, even though the alleged misconduct occurred many years ago.
While the allegations released in the documents in 2011 contained credible information regarding the misconduct of some monks, the St. John’s
Abbey says it has always taken these claims very seriously and placed restrictions and heavy supervision on any monk who has a charge against him in addition to taking many steps to prevent these tragedies from occurring in the future. The St. John’s Abbey says it has always been transparent regarding these claims, and released the files dealing with sexual misconduct willingly for publication.
In 2013 the St. John’s Abbey released documents containing the names of 18 priests who have credible allegations regarding sexual misconduct with minors against them. None of the living priests from that list remain unsupervised in public ministry.
With this most recent court settlement, the Abbey is continuing the work it has been doing over the years to investigate claims of sexual misconduct.