MINNEAPOLIS — Attorneys filed a civil lawsuit against an order of nuns and the Diocese of New Ulm, alleging sexual abuse of a 10-year-old boy repeatedly molested by a nun at a Catholic school in Madison, Minn.
The lawsuit, filed on behalf of a 58-year-old man from Shakopee, alleges that a nun repeatedly abused the boy in his fifth-grade year, from the fall of 1967 through spring 1968, at St. Michael’s Catholic School in Madison. Court papers say Sister Mary Regina repeatedly fondled the boy’s genitals during school hours, according a news release issued Tuesday by the Minneapolis law firm of Patrick Noaker.
Douglas Devorak of Shakopee, the alleged victim, will speak with reporters at a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, said Noaker’s office.
Court papers identify the boy as “John Doe 117.” Since serving the lawsuit, the Devorak has decided to reveal his identity to encourage other victims of sexual abuse to come forward, said Noaker’s office.
“I do not need to be anonymous anymore,” Devorak said in the news release. “I am a survivor. I did not do anything wrong. I need to get the truth out and tell my story to heal.”
Devorak’s attorneys are now investigating possible additional claims of sexual abuse by nuns at St. Michael’s Catholic School. Noaker’s team is also investigating claims of child sexual abuse involving at least one other order of nuns.
“It is shocking and sad that nuns who should have protected children molested them,” Noaker said.
This is the first civil lawsuit filed against an order of nuns under Minnesota’s new law for sex-abuse victims.
“It wasn’t just the priests, who sexually abused kids,” said Lee James, attorney and one of the country’s leading experts on Catholic clergy sexual abuse of children. Lee James and Craig Vernon represent more than 110 victims with claims against nuns in other states.
“It’s harder for male victims to speak out and say they were abused by nuns,” James said. “This is the next wave of abuse claims we expect to see. They’ve been covered up, and we are here to uncover the truth.”
St. Michael’s Catholic School in Madison was overseen by the Diocese of New Ulm. Nuns from the School Sisters of Notre Dame Pacific Central Province Inc., headquartered in St. Louis, taught at the school.
The lawsuit says both the diocese and the school sisters were negligent in allowing Sister Mary Regina to have unsupervised and unlimited access to young children and teenagers. The lawsuit also says that as a result of the sexual abuse, Dvorak suffered years of extreme anxiety and permanent emotional distress.
Craig Vernon, one of three attorneys representing Dvorak, said Sister Mary Regina’s actions followed a pattern of abuse seen elsewhere, where nuns didn’t just beat kids but also molested or sexually assaulted them.