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Mike Bryant
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Doe 30 vs. Diocese of Duluth Starts Tomorrow in Ramsey County District Court

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I look forward to following the priest child sex abuse trial of “Doe 30″ vs. the Diocese of Duluth.  The trial starts tomorrow in St Paul before Judge John Guthmann.  As I understand it,  there will be motions tomorrow.  Jury selection and opening statements start Tuesday.  As the Duluth News Tribune reported today:

…the lawsuit would become the first to go to trial under the Minnesota Child Victims Act, a 2013 law that opened a window for victims of decades-old abuse to file suit in cases that otherwise would be barred by statutes of limitation.

The trial, which could last up to two weeks, is set to begin Monday morning before Judge John Guthmann in Ramsey County District Court in St. Paul.

Fitzgerald at the time was assigned to St. Catherine’s Church in Squaw Lake, Minn., within the Duluth diocese. The suit states that he spent 12 weeks at a pastoral education program in Willmar, Minn., in 1976 and asked the alleged victim to return to Squaw Lake with him.

The alleged victim, then a 13-year-old parishioner at St. Thomas More Church in Lake Lillian, Minn., came from a devout Catholic family and agreed to serve temporarily as an altar boy, according to the suit. The plaintiff alleges that he repeatedly was abused during his two-week stay in Squaw Lake.

The suit, which alleges negligence, is seeking the full, public release of priests’ files and documents detailing the diocese’s handling of abuse allegations.

Fitzgerald was part of a list of the credibly accused that was released by Oblate priests earlier this year.  He was also identified on the list the Dioceses of Duluth credible accused released in 2013.

As the first trial to take place in Minnesota it may have a significant impact on similar claims in the state.  There are numerous cases that have been filed in the bankruptcy of the Archdiocese of Minneapolis and St Paul,  and many others throughout the rest of the state in district court.  The window  on these old cases closes in May of 2016 unless extended by the legislature.

Earlier this year, the case  played a big role in the disclosure of files when  Judge John Guthmann ordered the diocese to disclose all documents detailing abuse that is alleged to have occurred before 1978. I hope that Doe 30 will help  shine a light on the secrets that have remained until now and that justice can be finally served.

Abuse of children and the continued silence by the offenders needs to be prevented. If you suffered, saw, or suspected such events, it is important to know that there is help out there.