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Hennepin County man sues church, deacon after 'spiritual guidance sessions'

Updated: October 23, 2019 05:37 PM

A former Holy Family Catholic Church parishioner is suing the St. Louis Park church, and Deacon James Meyer in Hennepin County court for allegedly divulging what was shared during spiritual counseling sessions, according to court documents.

The plaintiff alleges the deacon "... revealed confidential and sensitive information to the Defendant Deacon with the understanding that it would be maintained as confidential..."

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"It's also affected him personally and emotionally as well,” said Marshall H. Tanick, the former parishioner's attorney. “As a result of this incident he has lost trust and faith in the church, he's dropped out of the church."

Tanick said the deacon later provided an affidavit, a legal statement, in a divorce filing between the parishioner and his then-wife.

For example, the deacon wrote conversations with the parishioner "... have given me pause ..." about how the man parents his children, according to the court document.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS reached out to the deacon named in the suit and the church for comment. Below is the full statement from the church:

“It would be improper for Holy Family Church and Deacon Meyer to comment about the particulars of a pending civil suit. We have confidence in the legal system to carefully examine all of the claims made and adjudicate them properly. We fully believe that Deacon Meyer’s actions will be exonerated. Our prayers go out to the [plaintiff’s] family and all families which suffer through relational strife and divorce.”

University of St. Thomas Law professor Dr. Charles Reid, licensed in the church's canon law, said this case is unique in the state.

"I haven't seen a case make its way up in Minnesota, the Supreme Court, surely there have been other cases in other jurisdictions," Dr. Reid said.

The lawsuit filed in Hennepin County court seeks financial damages from those named in the case.

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Eric Chaloux

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