Ex-priest subject of sex abuse lawsuits dies

| March 8, 2019 | 0 Comments

Thomas Adamson, a former priest removed from ministry in 1985 and laicized in 2009 after being accused of sexually molesting boys, died Feb. 25 in Rochester. He was 85.

Private funeral services were held.

Ordained in 1958 in the Diocese of Winona, Adamson served in parishes and schools there until 1975, when he was transferred to the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, where he served in five parishes over 10 years.

Adamson was accused of sexually abusing boys in both dioceses and was the subject of numerous lawsuits. A lawsuit settled in 2014 in the archdiocese with one victim/survivor abused by Adamson in the 1970s ushered in 17 child protection protocols in the archdiocese and an era of collaboration between the archdiocese and law enforcement.

Known as Doe 1, his was the first case filed after the Minnesota State Legislature lifted the statute of limitations in 2013 for three years on historic claims of minor sexual abuse.

Other accusers of Adamson were part of the archdiocese’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization, which includes $210 million for 442 victims/survivors. Filed in 2015, the settlement was confirmed last year in U.S. bankruptcy court.

In a statement, Archbishop Bernard Hebda said Adamson’s death reminded him of “how grateful I am to all of the courageous men and women who have come forward to report the abuse they suffered at the hands of people in the Church.”

The man known as Doe 1 wrote a letter to Father Charles Lachowitzer, vicar general and moderator of the curia, that was made public with the 2014 settlement. The man said that for decades he thought the sexual abuse he endured as a child from Adamson had had no impact on his life. He thought he was strong enough to bury it and live his life unaffected. But he came to see that his faith and his ability to trust and feel close to people were strained and damaged.

He also felt guilt and sadness knowing that others were harmed because he hadn’t stepped forward sooner, Doe 1 wrote.

But apologies he received from Father Lachowitzer and other Church officials for the abuse he suffered helped give him hope that changes would be made in the Church, he said.

“You, your staff and Church have the power to let all survivors know there is no shame in asking for help,” Doe 1 wrote. “Not only is it okay, but it is recommended and it can be done safely.”

“We all must do everything we can to protect children,” he wrote. “My dream for the future is that child sexual abuse will one day be known only in our history books.”

In his statement about Adamson’s death, the archbishop said the archdiocese “will never stop working to create and maintain safe environments in our parishes, schools and communities.”

“The abuse of children must never be tolerated and it is incumbent upon each of us to do all we can to prevent it,” he said. “Please pray for our brothers and sisters who have been harmed and for their families and friends, who have also suffered.”

Adamson served in then-St. Leo the Great in St. Paul and St. Thomas Aquinas in St. Paul Park from 1975 to 1976 and 1976 to 1979, respectively, and at St. Boniface in St. Bonifacius in 1976.

He served at Immaculate Conception in Columbia Heights from 1979 to 1980 and Risen Savior in Burnsville from 1981 to 1985, when he returned to the Winona diocese.

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