The Diocese of Crookston will ask the Court during Thursday’s scheduled hearing at the Polk County Justice Center to dismiss a lawsuit filed on behalf of a sexual abuse survivor, Doe 19, who was sexually abused as a young boy by Father J. Vincent Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald worked as a priest at St. Anne’s in Naytahwaush, MN, where he allegedly abused Doe 19.And just how is the Diocese trying to get out of this mess,
Prior to working at St. Anne’s in the Diocese of Crookston, Fitzgerald also worked at St. Catherine’s parish in Squaw Lake, MN, in the Diocese of Duluth, where he sexually abused another young boy, Bill Weis. In November 2015, a Ramsey County jury reached a verdict in favor of Weis, concluding the Diocese of Duluth was negligent in failing to supervise Fitzgerald.
The abuse actually involved multiple victims and dates back to the 60s, but the diocese argues they were not aware of it until the 90s.Crookston Diocese seeking dismissal of sexual abuse suit - News - Crookston Times - Crookston, MN - Crookston, MN
“Father Fitzgerald was employed by the Oblates of Mary the Immaculate, he was their responsibility,” explained Gaertner.
The diocese claims there was no written history of Father Fitzgerald preying on children when he came to the region, something disputed by Doe 19's lawyer.
“The public has never seen those, and even in court today when I tried to use those the diocese stood up, objected and made a big deal about nobody in the public should see these documents,” said Finnegan.
However, the diocese argues they should be excluded from the lawsuit since the oblates assigned Fitzgerald to the church, not them, and claim he was not technically employed by the diocese.
“It really comes down to under the law, if someone that doesn't work for you harms someone and you don't know or have any reason to know that it's going to happen, the law does not provide for you to be held accountable, the law doesn't provide for it and it's not fair,” commented Gaertner.