Marben has until Dec. 19 to rule on suit brought forth by Vasek against Bishop Hoeppner

    A northwest Minnesota judge has less than three months to rule on a lawsuit accusing the Diocese of Crookston and its bishop of covering up abuse of a man who reported being sexually abused by one of their priests more than 40 years ago. District Judge Kurt Marben has until December 19, 2017 to make a decision in the case involving Ron Vasek, a parishioner in the Tabor Area who says he was abused by former Msgr. Roger Grundhaus when he was 16 years old while on a trip to Ohio in 1971.

    The lawsuit against Diocese Bishop Michael Hoeppner accuse him of coercion and inflicting emotional distress. Vasek told the Grand Forks Herald that he agreed to drop the coercion charge against Hoeppner in exchange for a copy of the letter Hoeppner asked him to sign in October 2015 that recanted his allegations of abuse against Grundhaus. The remaining count against Hoeppner, accusing him of inflicting emotional distress, has not been settled.

    The five counts specifically involving the Diocese, which include two nuisance counts, one count of negligence, one count of negligent supervision and one count of negligent retention will be decided by Judge Marben.

    The Crookston Diocese released a statement Wednesday in regards to the settlement agreement and court hearing that was held in Thief River Falls. The statement began saying that the Diocese takes all matters of clergy sexual misconduct “seriously” and that they are reviewing their policies “in light of this case.” It stated, “Earlier this year, Ronald Vasek sued Bishop Michael Hoeppner and the Diocese of Crookston” and “Mr. Vasek has settled his claims against the Bishop.”

    “The settlement agreement does not constitute any admission of unlawful conduct or wrong doing by Bishop Hoeppner,” it read. “No diocesan funds were used to pay the settlement.”

    “The Diocese is now seeking dismissal of the remaining claims related to this matter,” it continued.

    The statement says that Monsignor Roger Grundhaus, who was ordained in 1966 and served congregations across the area including Crookston, Euclid, Gentilly, Fisher, Fertile, Tabor and more, remains “suspended from public ministry.”

    In Pennington County District Court Wednesday, Judge Marben was also asked to sanction a previous settlement in a related case claiming the Diocese failed to uphold a court order mandating the release of the names of all clergy involved in credible abuse cases.