NEW ULM - The Diocese of New Ulm has been named in several lawsuits alleging sexual misconduct by deceased priest the Rev. David Roney, who previously served in the Diocese.
The alleged misconduct from the late 1960s in the new lawsuits involved sexual abuse of one female minor while Roney served at the Church of St. Francis in Benson and the abuse of two female minors while he served at the Church of St. Mary in Willmar. These allegations are part of at least a dozen others filed against Roney. The new filings were recently made possible by a newly passed Minnesota law that essentially removes the time limit in filing such cases.
The lawsuit alleges the Diocese was negligent by not restricting Roney's access to children even after reports of inappropriate behavior.
Roney, who died in 2003, was ordained for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis in 1945. The Diocese was formed in 1957, and all priests within the new boundaries automatically became part of the Diocese. Roney retired from active ministry in 1993 and moved to San Lucas Toliman, Guatemala, where he died.
A press conference with two of the alleged victims was held Monday in St. Paul. The women said their purpose in the lawsuit is hold the church accountable and prevent future abuses. The lawsuit seeks to have the Diocese release a list of priests suspected of abusing children and seeks at least $50,000 in damages.
The Diocese released a press releasing stating it would investigate the new claims, but it has no new facts to report at this time.
"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," read the statement by the Diocese.
(Josh Moniz can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org)