Seventeen Monks Accused Of Child Abuse

A Minneapolis abbey issued a statement earlier this month saying that over a period of forty years, seventeen of its monks had likely abused children at its affiliated prep school. And a local TV station was able to track several of the accused monks down, with disturbing results.

St. John's Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota sent letters to alumni of its prep school saying there were "credible allegations of sexual abuse" against the 17 monks. Four are now dead, ten are still at the Abbey on a restricted basis, and three live in nearby communities. Local TV station WCCO tracked them down and confronted them, resulting in the footage at left.

The allegations against Fran Hoefgen (seen in the segment running into the funeral home where he now works) are especially disturbing. According to Behind the Pine Curtain, Hoefgen allowed his teenage victim to live in his house following the teenager's suicide attempt. When the victim confided his worries that he might be gay, Hoefgen at first appeared supportive — then he fondled the victim and later "forgave" him for the incident. The victim said he "got the impression that it was his fault," not Hoefgen's. Hoefgen later abused him twice more. The monk in fact confessed to the abuse, but was never prosecuted. Behind the Pine Curtain includes this especially sad anecdote:

The victim, now a 35-year-old Minneapolis resident who did not want to be named, said in an interview this week that he later wondered why no action was taken against Hoefgen. But at the time he reported the incidents, he didn't understand that the priest was under investigation. When he was called into the principal's office and quizzed by police about his relationship with the priest, the victim said he thought authorities were investigating him.

"I thought it was all me, that I was the one who was a bad person," he said.

Following sex offenders around with the camera isn't the most effective — or the most ethical — way to get justice. But it's a relief that it the victims abused at St. John's will no longer have to go through life thinking they were to blame.

Accused Of Sexual Abuse: The Monks Living Next Door [CBS Minnesota]
Monk Accused Of Sex Abuse Runs From Reporter [CBS]
Priest Never Prosecuted [BehindThePineCurtain.com]

Image via Margaret M Stewart/Shutterstock.com