Diocese submits answers to allegations
Parties involved in the 2017 civil complaint, Ronald Vasek v. Diocese of Crookston/Bishop Michael Joseph Hoeppner, are scheduled for mediation on March 26 and 27, 2019, plus Pre-Trial is on the docket for August 23, 2019 and Jury Trial for September 8, 2019 in the personal injury case involving alleged child sexual abuse by Rev. Msgr. Roger Grundhaus against Vasek when he was 16 years old. Previous coercion and intentional infliction of emotional distress counts against Bishop Hoeppner were dismissed September 26, 2017 after said to have been “fully compromised” and “settled.”
That was the first time in the United States that a Bishop had been individually sued for coercion.
Orders for motion to dismiss a negligence claim and public nuisance claim against the Diocese were denied by Judge Kurt Marben in December 2017 and a motion to dismiss the private nuisance claim was granted.
During the latter part of 2017, the Diocese motioned for dismissal of all seven counts against them.
The civil complaint against the Diocese of Crookston was filed May 8, 2017, and two judges, Judge Anne Rasmussen and Judge Jeffrey Remick, recused themselves, before the case was reassigned to Judge Tamara Yon. Vasek’s retained attorney Jeffrey Anderson sent Judge Yon a letter on May 15, 2017 asking that she recuse herself, as well, after reviewing her background which showed that she was an associate attorney and partner at a firm that previously represented the Diocese.
Judge Yon sent a response to Anderson stating that the Code of Judicial Conduct did not apply for this instance and she would not recuse herself, but offered for an order to be made if they felt she should be removed. Anderson filed an order of notice to remove Judge Yon days later and Judge Marben was assigned to the case.
On February 26, 2019, a separate answer from the Diocese was sent to the Plaintiff saying they admit belief that the Plaintiff resides in the state of Minnesota, admits the year and location the Diocese was established, admits that the Bishop is the top official of the Diocese, admits that Rev. Msgr. Roger Grundhaus was a priest employed by the Diocese and “at times” worked with children, admits that Vasek and his family were in contact with Fr. Grundhaus, admits that in approximately 1971 when Vasek was approximately 16 years old that he accompanied Fr. Grundhaus to a meeting of canon lawyers in Columbus, Ohio, but denies any remaining allegations against them.
A representative of the Jeff Anderson and Associates PA office, Mike Finnegan, told the Times previously that it is “highly unlikely” that Father Grundhaus will be charged criminally as an individual because of statutes from the 1970s.