NU Diocese releases names of priests credibly accused of abuse
ST. PAUL – The Diocese of New Ulm today released the names of 16 former priests who had been credibly accused of sexual abuse of a minor while working as priests. The announcement was made jointly with the law firm of Jeff Anderson & Associates after months of discussion between diocese and the law firm.
The list of names includes; Cletus Altermatt, Dennis Becker, Gordon Buckley, Robert Clark, J. Vincent Fitzgerald, John Gleason, Joseph Louis Heitzer, Rudolph Henrich, Harry Majerus, Francis Markey, William Marks, John Murphy, David Roney, Douglas Schleisman, Michael Skoblik and Charles Stark.
Of the men listed, 13 are deceased and all but one was previously named in media reports. Four of the men; Fitzgerald, Heitzer, Henrich and Majerus, had credible accusations made against them while working in other dioceses, but had no credible accusations made against them while serving in New Ulm’s Diocese.
In conjunction with the release of this list Jeff Anderson & Associates held a press conference in St. Paul Tuesday morning that was live streamed on the law firm’s website. During the conference two woman, Kim Schmitz and Lori Stoltz, spoke of the abuse they experienced from Roney. Schmitz said that as a youth in 1968 Roney forced her into a corner to abuse her following school. She reported the incident to her parents who then complained to the Diocese. Schmitz’s family was told actions would be taken against Roney; however the church simple relocated Roney to another parish. Schmitz would later become friends with Stoltz and both were horrified to learn they had been abused by the same priest despite the Diocese’s promises.
In a statement released to the press, Bishop John LeVoir said, “It is important that we recognize the credible accusation made against these men and acknowledge the terrible harm done by abuse in Church ministry.”
The New Ulm Diocese was the last diocese in Minnesota to release a list of credibly accused priests. All previous Diocese that compiled a list of Clergy credibly accused sexual abused have released the names to the public. Msgr. Douglas Grams spoke on behalf of the New Ulm Diocese saying the delay was to mutually work with Jeff Anderson & Associates to accurately name the priests with credible allegations involving a minor.
“We recognized that the knowledge and disclosure of the names helps in the healing process for the victims and survivors,” said Msgr. Grams. If further credible evidence comes forward implicating a new priest the Diocese is prepared to release that information. “We continue to stay in a collaborative dialogue with Jeff Anderson & Associates concerning this matter.”
Asked how the New Ulm Diocese would now handle accusations, Msgr. Grams stated that the Diocese will immediately report all accusations to law enforcement and encourage victims and survivors to come to the Diocese. “We will assist with counseling, spiritual direction, and the healing process,” said Grams. “If the person who is accused is alive he would be removed from the parish.”
Grams also stated that Bishop LeVoir has been on the forefront of meeting and praying with victims and survivor. A letter is sent to each household of each parish where the accused priest served to alert the parishioners of the credible allegation and to continue victims and survivors to come forward. Going forward The New Ulm Diocese is choosing to error on the side of caution. If an accusation is made against a priest they will be immediately removed from their position.
“The Diocese of New Ulm is demonstrating a willingness to be transparent about clergy who have abused children,” said attorney Jeff Anderson. “This agreement to release information is an important step in transparency and child protection and safety. We will continue to work together to put this commitment into action, and we encourage other possible survivors to step forward.”
The names of credibly accused men along with their assignment histories and additional information are posted on the website of Jeff Anderson & Associates (www.andersonadvocates.com) and the Diocese of New Ulm (www.dnu.org).
“Bishop LeVoir and I, on behalf of the Church, apologize to all victims and survivors of sexual abuse by priests,” said Msgr. Grams “[We] encourage other victims and survivors to report any such abuse to law enforcement immediately and certainly contact the Diocese and we will assist with counseling and spiritual direction for the healing process.”