Lawsuit alleges sexual abuse committed in 1970s

| November 7, 2013

The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis said it will investigate and respond to claims raised in a lawsuit filed against Father Jerome Kern alleging that he sexually abused a minor in the mid-1970s while serving at Our Lady of Grace in Edina.

“Jerome Kern was removed from ministry in 2002 and has been compliant with a monitoring program,” the archdiocese said in a statement Nov. 7.

The suit, filed in Ramsey County District Court on behalf of an unnamed plaintiff who is now in his 50s, also names the archdiocese as a defendant.

In its statement, the archdiocese said it remains “committed to ensuring the safety of children and young people who have been entrusted to our care.”

The archdiocese said that since 2002 it has “implemented policy and procedural reforms to clarify guidelines and strengthen enforcement.” Actions it has taken include holding safe environment sessions for adults; conducting background checks on clergy, staff and volunteers; and providing children with age-appropriate lessons to help keep them safe.

The archdiocese also announced last month the formation of an independent, lay task force to conduct a full review of its policies and practices related to clergy sexual misconduct. The group’s findings will be made public when final.

Also, Archbishop John Nienstedt has ordered a review of clergy files by an outside firm to ensure the archdiocese has not overlooked any inappropriate behavior from the past.

“We are deeply sorry for any harm that has come from clergy misconduct,” the statement said. “Eliminating any form of abuse is the highest priority for the Archdiocese.”

Category: Local

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