Jim Fitzpatrick: Child sexual abuse victims should be able to seek justice

2013-04-28T00:05:00Z Jim Fitzpatrick: Child sexual abuse victims should be able to seek justiceBy JIM FITZPATRICK Mahtomedi, Minn. Winona Daily News
April 28, 2013 12:05 am  • 

Throughout scripture God asks each of us to protect our children as they are to inherit God’s kingdom. In Psalm 127:3 we pray, “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord.” As a priest, I was responsible not only for sharing God’s word, but living it.

I was a priest at the Cathedral in Winona when parents from Caledonia, near my home town, came to tell me that Father Tom Adamson had abused their sons and as many as 17 boys within the two Caledonia parishes. I reported Father Adamson to the Bishop of Winona. Father Adamson was eventually moved from Caledonia, but I was shocked to learn he was assigned to a Catholic high school in Rochester. Eventually he was moved to the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis where he served in several parishes and, in every instance, he continued his molestation.

This is just one example of many that illustrates the lengths some church, school and other youth serving organizations will go to hide or cover up abuse. Some institutions have shuffled child predators to other sites, even to other states to shield known abusers from legal action in order to protect the institutions’ reputations. Worse yet, some church leaders have used a pretense of providing for a victim while time passes and the statute of limitations for legal action will expire. This ensures they can never be held accountable for their employee’s actions. The latter is a tactic known to have been used within the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and made public by the recent $10 million settlement with two survivors of clergy sex abuse.

A change in Minnesota state law is needed to prevent this behavior at the institution level.

Current state law says that children who are abused immediately know they’ve been injured and accordingly, have until only age 24 to file a lawsuit against the abuser. We know children haven’t developed the cognitive skills to understand fully what has happened to them. We need to create opportunities for victims to seek justice, not confine them to arbitrary statutes of limitation that do not take into account the sometimes decade-long healing process.

We have the opportunity to allow victims to heal on their own time frame and still seek the justice they deserve by eliminating the civil statute of limitations for child sexual abuse cases. The Minnesota Child Victims Act currently being heard by the Minnesota Legislature would eliminate the statute of limitation for child sex abuse and allow survivors of child sex abuse to file a lawsuit against their abuser or the institution that negligently failed to report the abuse or actively worked to cover it up, no matter when the abuse occurred.

The Minnesota Child Victims Act provides a common sense solution that will prevent institutions from being able to stall and delay the legal recourse for victims. It will help past, current and future victims of child sexual abuse. It will hold accountable those institutions who delay to avoid a just settlement. It is the least we can do to protect God’s gift and our heritage, our children.

Jim Fitzpatrick, an active priest from 1963-1973 in the Diocese of Winona, is currently a retired parish administrator.

Copyright 2015 Winona Daily News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(26) Comments

  1. Bob_Schwiderski
    Report Abuse
    Bob_Schwiderski - May 20, 2013 5:06 pm
    Hey Hive -- what about the abused, you know, those laying at the side of the road bleeding. You know, the ones you are suppose to get off the donkey and help.
  2. HRH
    Report Abuse
    HRH - May 20, 2013 2:46 pm
    No, the law could be changed, if and when the sheeple get off the Kool-Aid.
  3. Bob_Schwiderski
    Report Abuse
    Bob_Schwiderski - May 20, 2013 2:46 pm
    The list of Minnesota's 174 accused clerics IS NOT a hunt for prosecution of the harmers, it is a prod for those still in the shadows of silence from their sexual abuse.
    http://mnsnap.wordpress.com/villainous-mn-clerics/

    Since the publishing date of Mr. Fitzpatrick's article, The Minnesota Senate passed the Minnesota Child Victims Act by a 67 to 0 vote and the Minnesota House passed the bill by a 123 to 3 vote. http://mnchildvictimsact.wordpress.com/

    I'm happy for those previously 'time barred' for civil justice and I'm very, very happy Minnesota's children of today and those yet to be born now have a civil law / sexual abuse for their increased protections. Bob Schwiderski
  4. Hive
    Report Abuse
    Hive - May 01, 2013 8:56 am
    While emphasizing one is innocent until proven guilty, I see Robert Brom is listed on the link provided below.

    As memory serves, his name has been on the list for quite sometime...if he cannot be tried, why not take him, off the list, and others too? The list serves to indict, but that, without more is wrong, don't you think?
  5. Hive
    Report Abuse
    Hive - May 01, 2013 6:46 am
    I have been perusing this thread for a bit...K, while I can understand the reasons for steadfastness. Is denial what some of us do in the face of overwhelming evidence? Is the denial to mitigate one's regrets or being stiffed-necked, considering one is intelligent as you are.

    Facts...what are those things? The drift here does not concern facts, does it?

    One rule (one variation of one ancient rule) is that you always get what you give...individual or corporation...

    Les, it seems to me, is in concert with the drift intended here.

    I might add, if you had been abused, either physically or sexually, and experienced the cover-ups as well, or knew of it, the prism you see the world through would be different.

    RCC arrogance is as much organizational as it is individual and victims are at the end of the chain, instead of its head...and of these I speak from experience (facts), as you wish.

    The victims deserve resolution; the very organization that preached that fails them utterly.
  6. Khansky
    Report Abuse
    Khansky - April 29, 2013 11:39 pm
    Doesn't sound like you read it.
  7. Khansky
    Report Abuse
    Khansky - April 29, 2013 11:36 pm
    Leslie,
    seems it may not be my memory, that's failing:

    "The report concludes that the vast majority of clergy sex offenders are not pedophiles at all but were situational generalists violating whoever they had access to.".

    http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/do-the-right-thing/201105/the-new-john-jay-report-clergy-abuse-in-the-catholic-church

  8. Leslie Hittner
    Report Abuse
    Leslie Hittner - April 29, 2013 6:45 pm
    Khansky, I can't believe that you have not already read the John Jay report.

    As you know, it's all there.
  9. Khansky
    Report Abuse
    Khansky - April 29, 2013 1:16 pm
    Leslie,
    if your sure your memory is better? Just show some facts.
  10. Khansky
    Report Abuse
    Khansky - April 29, 2013 10:35 am
    Leslie,
    then what was this " A change in Minnesota state law is needed to prevent this behavior at the institution level." & " statute of limitations for legal action " doing in the item?

    Seem to me that was the primary thrust, of the item, was to change the law, & why Jim's rational.

  11. Leslie Hittner
    Report Abuse
    Leslie Hittner - April 28, 2013 10:17 pm
    Khansky, that was nasty!

    A main topic in the article was about the church's issue. Like it or not, the cover-up in the RCC is very likely the primary reason this law is being pushed. It's also very likely the primary reason the RCC is opposing it.
  12. Leslie Hittner
    Report Abuse
    Leslie Hittner - April 28, 2013 10:05 pm
    Precisely.

    "By the way if I remember correctly, according to stats,, most victims were post puberty , not children."

    You are not remembering correctly...
  13. Khansky
    Report Abuse
    Khansky - April 28, 2013 9:04 pm
    Leslie,
    you might take the term up with people more knowledgeable then yourself.

    Here's a start:
    "As a medical diagnosis, pedophilia or paedophilia is a psychiatric disorder in persons 16 years of age or older typically characterized by a primary or exclusive sexual interest toward prepubescent children".

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pedophilia
  14. Khansky
    Report Abuse
    Khansky - April 28, 2013 8:58 pm
    Since I sound like Cardinal Dolan, I take it as a complement, & my pay grade should be raised a bit.

    Obviously you did not get my point of the accused having the opportunity to defend oneself while he/she still has a sound mind.

    2ndly, I never mentioned church, so you might go back & read my post, again. Forgetfulness creeping in already?
  15. Leslie Hittner
    Report Abuse
    Leslie Hittner - April 28, 2013 7:17 pm
    Agreed.
  16. Leslie Hittner
    Report Abuse
    Leslie Hittner - April 28, 2013 6:42 pm
    Ah, yes...So in this case the term pedophile is misplaced? It was not pedophilia?

    I don't think so.
  17. Mike Steber Winona
    Report Abuse
    Mike Steber Winona - April 28, 2013 5:33 pm
    Squeaky clean in their own minds, perhaps. However, whether the Catholic Church likes it or not, the individual bishops and cardinals are still suspect in the eyes of millions simply due to the earned or unearned reputation of the whole.
  18. Leslie Hittner
    Report Abuse
    Leslie Hittner - April 28, 2013 5:30 pm
    Like I said...
  19. Frank LaFerriere
    Report Abuse
    Frank LaFerriere - April 28, 2013 4:24 pm
    You sound like Cardinal Dolan who screamed how he felt betrayed when NY passed the same sex marriage law, then spewed this out of his mouth:

    Dolan also explained that he wanted to keep the statute of limitations for child sex abuse victims to one-year, because if the church gets sued, "The perpetrators don’t suffer. There’s no burden on them. What suffers are the services and the ministries of the apostolates that we’re doing now. Because where does the money come from? So the bishops of 30 years ago that allegedly may have reassigned abusers, they don’t suffer. They’re dead. So the people that suffer are those who are being served right now by the church. We feel that’s a terribly unjust burden."

    Yuppers, who cares about us priest abuse victims unjust burdens and sufferings, as long as the church doesn't suffer, it's all good right?

  20. Khansky
    Report Abuse
    Khansky - April 28, 2013 10:29 am
    Jim,
    It might be a good idea to be careful what you ask for, you just might get it.

    Fast forward a few years, when the memory isn't so good, & you might be accused of abuse. But the "repressed memories " of your alleged victims, is so much clearer, then yours now..

    Do you think the court will believe "I don't remember" responses?.

    There is a rational for time limits, to prevent abuse of the accused.

    By the way if I remember correctly, according to stats,, most victims were post puberty , not children.
  21. Hive
    Report Abuse
    Hive - April 28, 2013 8:50 am
    Off topic: Easy, in case you miss from CT (Thomas op) thread...
    I read the Goldberg link. It was interesting and I dropped a comment in that thread.
  22. Hive
    Report Abuse
    Hive - April 28, 2013 8:47 am
    At the bare minimum, without the Book quotes, these children and adults deserve justice, or vengeance, whatever.
  23. Leslie Hittner
    Report Abuse
    Leslie Hittner - April 28, 2013 7:29 am
    Thank you for that list, Bob.
  24. Bob_Schwiderski
    Report Abuse
    Bob_Schwiderski - April 28, 2013 7:15 am
    Minnesota Child Victims Act
    http://mnchildvictimsact.wordpress.com/
  25. Bob_Schwiderski
    Report Abuse
    Bob_Schwiderski - April 28, 2013 7:10 am
    Here is a shocking list of 174 accused Minnesota clerics
    --- http://mnsnap.wordpress.com/villainous-mn-clerics/

    --- Minnesota Child Victims Act: http://mnchildvictimsact.wordpress.com/
  26. Leslie Hittner
    Report Abuse
    Leslie Hittner - April 28, 2013 6:43 am
    Thank you for that letter, Jim. For some reason, some - certainly not all - good Catholics that I know seem to want to give the Church a pass on this issue simply because it is not the only institution that has had problems dealing with the sexual abuse of minors perpetrated by its employees. With respect to extending the statute of limitations, they argue that the rights and "memories" of the abusers trump the rights and damaged lives of the abused. When the institutions themselves take on this attitude, I cannot help but see it as self-serving.

    The active cover up of sexual abuse by the Catholic Church has been a concern of mine for several years. In 2007 I became more actively involved in the effort to force the Winona Diocese - as an institution - to be accountable for its role in the Adamson cover up. While the diocese has instituted measures to better ensure that sexual abuse by its priests and other employees does not take place, there has been no action or assurances that the cover up will not continue. Perhaps most importantly, there has been no public acknowledgement that the cover up took place and no apologies to the abused for those past illegal activities of the institutional church. The Diocese of Winona is not unique in this respect.

    The reputations of past bishops (and even Cardinals) – perpetrators of the cover up – remain squeaky clean.
Add Comment
You must Login to comment.

Click here to get an account it's free and quick

activate-button-3 FULL ACCESS

Follow the Winona Daily News








AD BOARD

VIEW ADS  >

SEARCH ALL ADS
Sign Up for Our Email Lists

Breaking News, News Update and Sports Update Headlines. Delivered at 9a.m. daily.

Winona Daily News Events, Contests and Promotions

Business report, local Business news. Delivered once per month.

Local homes for sale.

New employment opportunities in the region.

Cars, Trucks, Vans, SUVs, Motorcycles, ATVs, Boats, RV's & more

JOB BOARD

VIEW ADS  >

JOBS SENT TO YOUR EMAIL
SEARCH ALL ADS

Homes