by Dennis Dalman
Another former St. John’s Abbey monk and priest has been charged with sexual abuse in a civil lawsuit filed in St. Paul Nov. 19.
Fr. Francis Hoefgen is accused by a plaintiff known as “Doe 27” with abusing him when he was a youth in a parish in Hastings. Hoefgen had also been accused in 1984 of sexually abusing a boy at St. Boniface in Cold Spring.
The lawsuit, which was announced Nov. 19 in St. Paul, also names as defendents – besides Hoefgen – the Order of St. Benedict, St. John’s Abbey, St. Luke Institute and the archdiocese of St. Paul/Minnesota (of which Hastings is a part).
The lawsuit, which is asking for a jury by trial, was filed on behalf of “Doe 27” by Jeff Anderson and Associates of Minneapolis, a law firm that specializes in abuse cases committed by clergy.
The suit alleges that officials named as defendants knew Hoefgen was a pedophile after the 1983 incident in Cold Spring and did nothing to stop him from doing it again.
Hoefgen served at St. Boniface from 1979 to 1984.
After the alleged abuse incident in Cold Spring, officials at St. John’s Abbey referred Hoefgen to treatment at St. Luke Institute in Maryland, where he spent several months.
Later, he was assigned to the parish in Hastings. The lawsuit alleges that is where the sexual abuse against a boy occurred between the years of 1985 to 1992, starting when the boy was 10 and ending when he was 13.
“Doe 27,” the plaintiff, is now in his 30s. The lawsuit documents do not indicate where he now lives. Hoefgen, according to court records, lives in Minneapolis.
The lawsuit alleges the defendants knew or should have known about the dangers posed by Hoefgen in his working with children. The suit requests at least $50,000 in damages to the plaintiff, who is claiming mental and emotional damage because of the abuse.
The suit is also asking St. John’s Abbey release to the public a list, with current addresses, of 17 clergy who have had “credible” child-abuse charges against them, as well as names and addresses of 33 clergy members of the archdiocese of St. Paul who have been credibly accused. The plaintiff and attorneys also want all documents relating to those charges to be made public.
There has been an increase in lawsuits against clergy in the past year because of the Child Victims’ Act in Minnesota, which did away with a statute of limitations on child-sexual-abuse cases.
Dalman was born and raised in South St. Cloud, graduated from St. Cloud Tech High School, then graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in English (emphasis on American and British literature) and mass communications (emphasis on print journalism). He studied in London, England for a year (1980-81) where he concentrated on British literature, political science, the history of Great Britain and wrote a book-length study of the British writer V.S. Naipaul. Dalman has been a reporter and weekly columnist for more than 30 years and worked for 16 of those years for the Alexandria Echo Press.