Crookston Bishop Michael Hoeppner is under investigation by the Archdiocese of Saint Paul & Minneapolis for allegations that Hoeppner “carried out acts or omissions intended to interfere with or avoid civil or canonical investigations of clerical sexual misconduct in the Diocese of Crookston,” said a statement by the Archdiocese. Law enforcement has been notified of the allegations and they were reported to the Archdiocese under the procedures set out in Pope Francis’ recent legislation addressing bishop accountability.
The Times reached out to the Archdiocese’s lead investigator Tim O’Malley to inquire if the investigation was related to the case involving Ronald Vasek, the man who alleged child sexual abuse by Rev. Msgr. Roger Grundhaus against Vasek when he was 16 years old and later accused Hoeppner of coercion. O’Malley said he was not at liberty to answer if there was a connection as “it’s a privacy thing at this point in the investigation.”
“It wouldn’t be proper for me to say who the reporters are; we know it’s about sexual abuse to a minor,” O’Malley told the Times.
Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda said in the statement released Wednesday to the Catholic News Agency that he has appointed “qualified lay persons” to assist him in carrying out the investigation, to provide an independent review of its contents, and assist in its examination and analysis.
“All involved in this investigation have been encouraged to respond to the investigators’ requests and provide accurate information so that the truth in this matter may become clear,” Archbishop Hebda stated.
It was noted that the investigation is a preliminary one and not a “full canonical” process. A limited time period has been established to gather information that may substantiate the truthfulness of the allegations and the gathered information will be forwarded to the Apostolic Nuncio, who is the Pope’s representative in the United States, and to the Congregation for Bishops in Rome for a determination whether a subsequent process is warranted.
Anyone who has information to report related to this investigation is encouraged to contact Tim O’Malley, Director of Ministerial Standards and Safe Environment for the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, who is leading the investigation. O’Malley can be reached at 651-290-1618 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anyone who has information about alleged misconduct by another bishop is urged to report that information to former Hennepin County Attorney Thomas Johnson. Attorney Johnson can be reached at 612-632-3207 or by emailing email@example.com.