abc
QUICK LINKS:

Duluth Diocese Investigates Allegations Against Priest; Abuse Organization Wants Answers

Updated: 06/17/2014 1:40 PM
Created: 06/16/2014 9:21 PM WDIO.com
By: Alan Hoglund
ahoglund@wdio.com

A member of an organization that supports victims of abuse by priests is demanding answers from the Diocese of Duluth. This comes after the work of a priest at St. Michael's Catholic Church has been suspended while the diocese investigates allegations of abuse from nearly 25 years ago.

"Whether or not this man is guilty, that's up for a court to decide," Verne Wagner, the Northern Minnesota director of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP), said at a news conference Monday afternoon.

Wagner is talking about Father Timothy Backous. Backous is accused of abusing a child at St. John's Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota in 1990. According to the Diocese of Duluth, Backous relocated to Duluth to work at Essentia Health. He has also been serving a role at St. Michael's on the weekends.

For now Backous' work at both locations is on hold.

Essentia Health Media Relations Specialist Maureen Talarico told us Backous offered to take leave from his current role following renewed accusations of misconduct. "Essentia Health has accepted and placed him on administrative leave pending the outcome of its internal investigation into the matter."

A June 11th statement from Father James Bissonette, the Vicar General of the Diocese of Duluth, said "we've just become aware of the allegations...we take such matters extremely seriously and have asked Father Backous to suspend his weekend work at the parish until a fuller examination of the facts can be completed."

While the diocese said they learned about the allegations last week, Wagner alleges that it's not true. He told Eyewitness News that the diocese needs to be held accountable for allegedly with- holding information.

Wagner has a lot of questions: Did the diocese review his [Backous] personnel file? Has anyone else accused Backous of abuse?

Communications Director Kyle Eller said prior to Backous coming to St. Michael's, the diocese asked for and received a letter from Abbot John Klassen, his religious superior, in the spring of 2013. According to Eller, it said that Backous is a priest in good standing and that nothing in his background would render him unsuitable to work with children.

Eller said St. John's investigated the 1990 allegations and found them to be unsubstantiated. He said they know of no other accusations against Backous, and that "to our knowledge Father Backous carried out his duties at St. Michael's responsibly."

However, Wagner wants the priest's employers to do more checking. "SNAP urges the Duluth Diocese and Essentia Hospital to reach out to patients and children who may have had contact with Father Backous to assure that others may have not been abused by this man."

The diocese said it takes sexual abuse seriously too, and is urging any victims to come forward to law enforcement and the church.

Father Timothy Backous

Front Page

  • Duluth Hunt To Allow Unlimited Antlerless Deer Harvest

    As hunters gear up for fall, bowhunters in Duluth are also getting ready for a change. The city hunt will allow unlimited antlerless deer to be harvested this fall. The change comes as most of the state is seeing tighter restrictions.

  • Four Republican Candidates for Minn. Governor Face Off On Air

    The four Republican candidates for Minnesota governor faced off in a radio debate Thursday morning in Duluth. Marty Seifert, Scott Honour, Jeff Johnson and Kurt Zellers addressed the issue of what to do in the case of a budget shortfall, among other questions.

  • Candidate for Minn. Secretary State: Ballot Access Is 'Primary Mission'

    A candidate for Minnesota secretary of state stopped by Duluth on Thursday. Steve Simon said his main goal as secretary of state would be to improve and maintain ballot access. Simon is one of several DFL candidates competing in the August primary.

  • Traffic came to a stop in the Duluth-bound lanes of the Blatnik Bridge on Thursday morning as officers retrieved cash thrown from a vehicle. Police: Drug Suspect Threw Cash on Blatnik Bridge

    An alleged drug suspect threw cash out of a car window on the Blatnik Bridge in Superior Thursday morning, bringing all Duluth-bound traffic to a brief standstill while officers picked up the bills. The suspect is being held at the St. Louis County Jail pending formal charges.

  • Fill The Boot Kicks Off Next Week in Twin Ports

    Drivers in the Twin Ports will soon see a curbside fundraiser next week. Fill the Boot kicks off again. The Duluth and Superior Fire Departments are raising money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

 
Advertisement