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

  • Veterans, Community Mark Memorial Day with Fitness

    Current military, veterans and community members marked Memorial Day in a unique way, working out together at a Duluth cross fit gym. The workout on Monday was part of an ongoing series of events to support combat veterans who struggle with post traumatic stress disorder...

  • Americans Mark Memorial Day

    Americans across the country are marking Memorial Day. President Obama is hosting a breakfast with organizations that support military family and families of the fallen. Special tributes are also happening in Chicago and overseas. 

  • MNsure Struggles To Sign Up Small Businesses

    Minnesota's health insurance exchange is having a big problem with attracting small businesses. MNsure was originally expected to cover 155,000 people in small-group plans by next year.

  • Big Lake Boaters Prepare for Lake Superior Season

    As the water starts to warm up on Lake Superior, recreational boaters are gearing up for the season on the big lake. About 1/3 of the more than 100 vessels at the Knife River Marina are in the lake so far, and others are getting final touches before heading into the slips...

  • Wis. Lawmakers Hope to Expand Use of Allergy Treatment Devices

    A variety of businesses could soon keep a supply of epinephrine injectors to be used in case of life-threatening allergic reactions under a Republican bill moving through the Legislature.

 

Flood Warning

MN AREAS AFFECTED: Crow Wing; Morrison
Expires: 5/30/2015 1:00 AM

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement