Anderson describes Porter as a 'wolf in shepherd's clothing.'
Monday, attorney Jeff Anderson and his associate, Steve Anderson held a press conference in front of the Polk County Justice Center in Crookston to discuss a lawsuit filed late last week against the Diocese of Crookston, claiming the diocese had knowledge that a former priest, Father James Porter, sexually abused at least 18 children during his tenure at St. Philip's parish and school in Bemidji.
The petitioner, known as Jane Doe 4, claimed Porter sexually molested her during the school year of 1969-1970. Due to a recent change in Minnesota law, the Child Victim's Act has eliminated the statute of limitations, which formerly prohibited adult survivors of sexual abuse from reporting their experiences later in life.
Jane Doe 4, now in her fifties, chose to come forward to expose the cover-up of actions taken by a trusted family pastor, Jeff Anderson said, to work toward stopping future abuse toward children by a person in a position of power, and to seek accountability from the Diocese of Crookston and its leaders, who, he said, knowingly appointed a priest with a lengthy history of sexually abusing children as the leader of a parochial school. It is her goal, through the legal process, to ensure the Diocese of Crookston lets go of its secrets, Jeff Anderson said, exposing a list of known child molesters it has allegedly protected throughout the years.
Jeff Anderson called Porter "a wolf in Shepherd's clothing," noting that Porter had a history of over 25 years of abuse which was known by each bishop and parish he served under. "Porter had an inability to control himself or his actions. Only the Bishops could control him and they chose not to," said Anderson. "It is time for transparency. It is time for truth."
Porter, who in a 1974 letter to the Pope, admitted to abusing over 100 children in the parishes he served and while he was in treatment for his inability to control his actions toward both boys and girls. Porter requested to be released from his pastoral responsibilities. His request was granted and he went on to marry and have children. He was convicted of molesting a babysitter in 1992 and died in a maximum security prison in 2005.
Jeff Anderson is a St. Paul trial lawyer internationally recognized as a pioneer in sexual abuse litigation. He has represented thousands of survivors of sexual abuse by authority figures and clergy.