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

  • Better News for Keetac: 175 Staying on for Maintenance During Shutdown

    Keewatin Taconite is in the process of shutting down production. And all 412 employees were put on notice they could be laid off. But the plan is to keep about 175 on for maintenance projects.

  • Duluth School District Legal Battle Comes Before Federal Judge

    The legal battle against the Duluth School District came before a federal magistrate Friday in St. Paul. The judge oversaw settlement talks in the lawsuit school board member Art Johnston brought against the district and fellow board members....

  • Emergency Response Safety Expo at Proctor School

    Lake Superior College Fire Tech Faculty, Proctor Police and Fire Departments, and representatives from the US Army and the Air National Guard hosted a safety expo at Proctor High School Friday morning. Officials were on hand to give demonstrations and show off some of the equipment used to students. Some students ran through a firefighting obstacle course that included a high-rise hose pack carry and a dummy drag.

  • Darryl Franklin Bowser, 32, is suspected of firing shots at a car in Duluth's Central Hillside neighborhood Thursday afternoon.  Police are asking for tips from the public to arrest Bowser on a possible charge of second-degree assault. Suspect Sought in Duluth Shots Fired Incident

    The Duluth Police Department is asking for public tips to help find a man suspected of firing shots in the Central Hillside neighborhood on Thursday afternoon. Police say they have probable cause to believe Darryl Franklin Bowser, 32, is the person who shot at a car.

  • Smoke continued to rise from a home in South Range, Wis., hours after the fire began Friday. Fire Destroys South Range Home

    Fire destroyed a home in the South Range area near Superior on Friday morning.  Smoke continued to rise from the hours after the fire began.  No one was injured.

 
Advertisement