Oversight ends in Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis clergy abuse case

Updated: January 28, 2020 05:12 PM

On Tuesday, the Ramsey County Attorney's Office announced a final civil settlement with the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis for failure to report child sexual abuse.

In a press conference, Ramsey County Attorney John Choi and Archbishop Bernard Hebda said the diocese will continue to work toward creating and fostering a culture in which every person becomes vigilant in ensuring no child ever becomes the victim of clergy sexual abuse.

Choi said the attorney's office was limited legally in what it could do in prosecution, and that's part of the reason it felt working to creating systemic change in the diocese was the better path to create change and prevent clergy abuse from happening in the future.

The archdiocese will be required to create an organizational structure capable of meeting certain core parts of the agreement, and requires more expansive oversight of safe environment practices by the Archbishop, board of directors, ministerial review board and director of ministerial standards and safe environment.

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During the press conference, Choi and Hebda acknowledged the Hoffman family, whose children the case centered around and led the attorney's office to take civil action five years ago.

Joy Hoffman, the boys' mother, said the strength of her boys to come forward to report priest sex abuse in St. Paul led to the moment Tuesday.

"I think it has brought us a sense, an instance of healing, a sense of hope and an assurance that something like this will never happen again, and we have safety in our parish communities," Hoffman said.

Hebda apologized to the victims of clergy abuse, but said he's grateful the victims came forward to force changes that will hopefully keep others safe from harm in the future.

Hebda also pledged to expand the diocese's relationship with the attorney's office, saying, "I will continue to collaborate with those who can make a difference."

In court, the diocese submitted its safe environment plan detailing changes it plans to make and how it will introduce more oversight and accountability.

You can find more about the diocese's plan here and can view the settlement agreement here. You can also track the timeline of events in the case dating back to 2015 here.

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