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Crookston diocese finds former clergy member acted inappropriately with young man

The Diocese of Crookston could not confirm that Grundhaus had engaged in behavior considered sexual abuse under canon or civil law, but did maintain that he had acted inappropriately with a young man.

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CROOKSTON, Minnesota — The Diocese of Crookston confirmed on Monday, March 7, that former clergy member Monsignor Roger Grundhaus, who was previously accused of sexually abusing a minor , was found by a diocesan review board to have “engaged in inappropriate activity that showed poor judgment and some level of impropriety with a young man.”

In a letter on Monday, Bishop Andrew Cozzens updated clergy and laypeople of the diocese on the statuses of Grundhaus and former Bishop Michael Hoeppner, who resigned in April 2021 at the request Pope Francis following investigations into reports that he had covered up child sex abuse by clergy members in the diocese.

Grundhaus has been barred from engaging in public ministry since May 2017 and in the letter, Cozzens writes that he will continue to prohibit Grundhaus from engaging in public ministry, a decision that will last for one year, at which time it will be reviewed to determine if it should be continued.

Accusations against Grundhaus were investigated by the Diocese of Crookston’s Ministerial Review Board, led by Judge Timothy O’Malley, director of ministerial standards and safe environment for the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis. The MRB could not confirm that Grundhaus had engaged in behavior considered sexual abuse under canon or civil law, but did maintain that he had acted inappropriately with a young man.

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“Judge O’Malley oversaw the investigative process on behalf of Archbishop Hebda and assisted our MRB, reviewed the case extensively and concluded that it is clear Monsignor Grundhaus acted highly inappropriately and in a way that caused lasting harm to individuals and scandal in the diocese,” wrote Cozzens.

O’Malley determined that Grundhaus’ misconduct was serious enough to prohibit him from engaging in public ministry.

“Based on my own review of the entire affair, I agree with this assessment,” Cozzens wrote. “Monsignor Grundhaus does not have faculties for public ministry in the Diocese of Crookston.”

The diocese posts a list of names of individuals who have had credible claims of sexual abuse of a minor made against them on its website, but Grundhaus will not be added to the list.

“The circumstances surrounding the situation involving Monsignor Grundhaus do not fit our definition of a credible claim of sexual abuse against a minor so his name will not appear on the list of disclosures found on our diocesan website,” Cozzens wrote.

While Grundhaus was accused of sexual assault by Ron Vasek in 2017 , the diocese could not confirm that Cozzens’ letter was referencing Vasek’s case.

“In accordance with our diocesan Safe Environment Policy, which cites Canon law and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Charter and Essential Norms, the identity of victims/survivors who have alleged abuse are protected from disclosure in so far as possible,” said Janelle Gergen, director of communications at the Diocese of Crookston.

In 2019, the Diocese of Crookston reached a $5 million settlement with several individuals who were children when they were sexually abused by priests. As part of the settlement, the diocese said it would make public the names and files of clergy who have been accused of abuse.

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Additionally in the letter, Cozzens confirmed that Hoeppner would not be returning to ministry in the Diocese of Crookston. He also announced that the former bishop’s retirement benefits would be reduced following new United States Conference of Catholic Bishops guidelines for “bishops who resigned or were removed from their ecclesiastical office due to grave acts of commission or omission as stipulated in universal law.”

“This means Bishop Hoeppner’s monthly pension was cut in half, and all non-essential travel expenses were eliminated since any travel undertaken is not ministry-related. In addition, he has no secretarial support. Bishop Hoeppner continues to receive a modest housing allowance, as well as healthcare and medical benefits,” Gergen said.

Cozzens was installed as the eighth bishop of the Diocese of Crookston in December.

“I recognize the Diocese of Crookston needs some healing,” Cozzens told reporters prior to his installment as bishop. “I’m aware, of course, of the resignation of the last bishop and the reports around that, and I do come with experience in dealing with issues of sexual abuse and sexual misconduct.”

As an auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, Cozzens was part of a team that investigated sexual abuse allegations against Archbishop John Nienstedt.

The Diocese of Crookston includes a number of communities and counties in Minnesota, including Ada, Bagley, Bemidji, Detroit Lakes, Dilworth, East Grand Forks, Fertile, Fisher, Goodridge, Hawley, Lancaster, Mahnomen, Moorhead, Oslo, Roseau, Thief River Falls and Warroad.

Related Topics: FAITHCROOKSTON
Ingrid Harbo joined the Grand Forks Herald in September 2021.

Harbo covers Grand Forks region news, and also writes about business in Grand Forks and the surrounding area.

Readers can reach Harbo at 701-780-1124 or iharbo@gfherald.com. Follow her on Twitter @ingridaharbo.
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