Minnesota judge allows 'public nuisance' lawsuit against Catholic dioceses
September 03, 2014
A Minnesota judge has allowed sex-abuse victims to move forward with a lawsuit claiming that the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis and the Diocese of Winona caused a “public nuisance” by providing new parish assignments for priests accused of sexual abuse.
The “public nuisance” claim has never before been accepted by an American court in a lawsuit against the Church. But Judge John Van de North wrote in his ruling: “Failing to disclose information about an accused priest is akin to, and conceivably more offensive and dangerous, than other acts that have been considered public nuisances.”
Judge Van de North had rejected earlier pleas by the St. Paul archdiocese that the suit should be dismissed, saying that the case deserved a full hearing. A lawyer for the archdiocese said that the judge’s latest ruling was not a surprise, but insisted that the claim “is far outside the parameters of most if not all public nuisance claims litigated in Minnesota.”