Minnesota bishop sued for coercion in clergy abuse lawsuit - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Minnesota bishop sued for coercion in clergy abuse lawsuit


A man who says he was abused by a priest 46 years ago is suing the Bishop of the Diocese of Crookston. The man says Bishop Michael Hoeppner  coerced him into saying the abuse never happened. Hoeppner served for years in the Diocese of Winona.

The lawsuit alleges that the abuse happened in 1971 when Ronald Vasek was 16 years old. Vasek says then-father Roger Grundhaus engaged in unpermitted sexual conduct with him. Grundhaus is now retired.

This became a problem again for Vasek in 2010 when he was attempting to become a deacon. Vasek asked another priest if reporting the assault would prohibit him from becoming a deacon. That priest then reported the abuse by Grundhaus to the Diocese of Crookston.

In 2015, in the midst of Vasek's deacon program, Bishop Michael Hoeppner attempted to get him to recant the report by signing a letter written by the Diocese. The lawsuit alleges Bishop Hoeppner suppressed his report by threatening Vasek's son's career as a priest and Vasek's ambitions of becoming a deacon.

Vasek said in the news conference, "How could I ever ordain you? He said where would I put you? Who would take you? Then he proceeded to say it would be very difficult for your son who is a priest in our diocese, too. I knew at that moment he was blackmailing me."

According to Attorney Jeff Anderson, this is the first time in the nation that a bishop has been sued for coercion in a clergy abuse lawsuit.

Bishop Hoeppner previously served in the Diocese of Winona as Vicar General.

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