Lawsuit claims children at St. Francis were abused by priest in the 1960s
By Reed Anfinson
Publisher, Swift County Monitor-News
Two children who attended St. Francis Xavier Parochial School in Benson are among the at least 20 children that former priest Father David A. Roney is accused of sexually abusing during his career.
The incidents, one involving a boy and one a girl, are alleged to have occurred while he was in Benson between 1963 and 1967. Roney died Jan. 27, 2003.
Monday the law firm of Jeff Anderson and Associates PA conducted a press conference with two women who say Roney abused them while he was a priest in Willmar between 1967 and 1975.
The two, along with a third unidentified person who attended the Catholic school in Benson, are seeking an amount in excess of $50,000 each as well as costs, reasonable attorney’s fees, and other relief “as the court deems just and equitable” from the Diocese of New Ulm. The suit was filed last Friday in Brown County.
“It’s disappointing to know that for decades, the Diocese of New Ulm continued to adhere to its policy of silence and secrecy,” St. Paul attorney Jeff Anderson, who along with St. Cloud attorney Michael Bryan, are representing the women. “Today we are here to break that silence.”
The lawsuit also asks that the diocese “release the names of all credibly accused child molesting priests, each priest’s history of abuse, each such priest’s pattern of grooming and sexual behavior, and his last known address.” Anderson claims the Diocese has a “secret list that contains the names of those with credible accusations of sexual abuse in the Diocese of New Ulm.”
The New Ulm Diocese oversaw the Catholic churches and schools in Benson and Willmar. Benson’s parochial school, which hasn’t been used for classes since the mid-1990s, is currently being demolished.
The two women from Willmar, Kim Schmit and Lori Stoltz, originally filled as Jane Does, but have since given permission for their names to be used. They conducted a public interview Monday with Anderson; it has been posted to You Tube.
Photo: Monday afternoon MAAC, Inc., of Montevideo was demolishing the former St. Francis Parochial School. The school is coming down as the New Ulm Diocese faces a lawsuit claiming at least two children at the school were sexually abused by Father David A. Roney between 1963 and 1967.