Man files sex-abuse suit against priest
Superior bishop accused of inaction
BY KEVIN HARTER
A former altar boy filed a lawsuit Wednesday in Duluth accusing aretired priest of molesting him and accusing the bishop of the SuperiorDiocese of taking no action on several complaints about the priest.
Identified only as John Doe 113, the 55-year-old Superior manaccused the Rev. Edward F. Beutner of sexually abusing him as ateenager. Filed by St. Paul attorney Jeff Anderson, the suit alsoalleges several complaints made to Bishop Raphael Fliss about Beutnerin the past few years were ignored.
The suit seeks more than $50,000 in damages.
Fliss and diocese spokesman the Rev. Philip J. Heslin did not returnmessages Wednesday seeking comment. Beutner, 66, who is believed to beliving in River Falls, Wis., could not be reached for comment.
The Superior man was an altar boy at Superior's Cathedral of Christthe King in the mid-'60s and "came to know, admire, trust, revere andrespect Beutner as a priest, teacher, counselor, spiritual adviser andreligious instructor," according to the lawsuit filed in St. LouisCounty District Court.
His lawsuit alleges that Beutner, then serving at the cathedral,"engaged in unpermitted, harmful and offensive sexual contact" with theboy, who was about 15 years old in 1965 or 1966, during a trip toMinnesota, which is why the lawsuit is being filed in Duluth.
Anderson, nationally known for representing victims of clergy sexualabuse, said a similar suit would have been filed in Superior, but a1995 state Supreme Court decision has made such cases nearly impossiblein Wisconsin.
According to the lawsuit, the former altar boy "suffered a traumaticamnesia, or memory repression, of the sexual abuse" and had no memoryof it until about 2005 or 2006 while in psychological treatment.
The suit also alleges Fliss and other church officials "continue toattempt to cover up Beutner's abuse of children" despite three otherreports from individuals who say they were molested as children by theretired priest.
John Doe 113 contacted Fliss six months ago after learning Beutnerstill was active in the priesthood and became concerned. About the sametime, he attended a reunion and met three of his classmates who saidBeutner also had abused them, the lawsuit said. All four then went tosee Fliss, Anderson said.
The bishop told them the statute of limitations had passed and theycouldn't bring any action against the church. "Which is not what theywanted," Anderson said. "They wanted him to do something."
The bishop did tell the men he would look into their claims, but Anderson said nothing was done.
Beutner is now retired, but he continues to be active in church-related events and retreats, Anderson said.
Kevin Harter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
or 800-950-9080, ext. 2149
for a listing of alternate locations.