Voice from the Valley

VFTV: October 4, 2017

I want to bring you up to date regarding the lawsuit filed against me and the Diocese of Crookston by Mr. Ronald Vasek. You can read my official statement HERE regarding a settlement of the claims raised against me personally, but I want to comment on that statement here. Let me first reiterate what that statement says: the settlement agreement does not constitute any admission of unlawful conduct or wrongdoing on my part. I, your bishop, deny that I forced, coerced or encouraged Mr. Vasek to not pursue making allegations against Msgr. Grundhaus. I want you to know that I signed the settlement agreement so we could avoid a long, drawn out legal process and to avoid costly attorney fees. No diocesan funds were used in this settlement agreement; our diocesan insurance provider has covered the claims involved.

It was in 2011 that Mr. Vasek first asked to see me. When I met with him, he told me his story alleging that Msgr. Roger Grundhaus had tried to inappropriately touch him in 1971. I asked if there was anything the diocese could do to help him and he told me no, saying that he was doing fine. I asked if he wanted to make an official, public accusation against Msgr. Grundhaus by contacting our vicar general, who, according to our diocesan policy, is “responsible for receiving all complaints of sexual abuse by a cleric.” Mr. Vasek told me he absolutely did not want to do this as his wife, his son, and his family did not know anything about this past alleged incident and that Msgr. Grundhaus remains a family friend. I told him I would respect his wishes and his right to keep this matter confidential as he asked. I did not pressure Mr. Vasek to remain silent about this matter.

I met a second time with Mr. Vasek about this matter in October 2015. We had been informed by a neighboring diocese that Msgr. Grundhaus’ name would not be included on their list of priests who could do coverage in that diocese because Mr. Vasek had talked to a priest of that diocese about the alleged incident. I wondered if Mr. Vasek, at that time, wanted to make an official accusation/complaint. At the end of our conversation that day, I thought it prudent to have in writing a statement from Mr. Vasek that he still did not want to make an official accusation by contacting our vicar general. I put together a statement for him to sign expressing his free intent and desire not to make an official accusation: “I, Ron Vasek, regarding a trip I was on when I was 16 years old, and on which a priest of the Diocese of Crookston was also participating, clearly and freely state that I have no desire to nor do I make any accusation of sexual impropriety by the priest toward me.” Mr. Vasek signed the statement and dated it: October 21, 2015.

Looking back and knowing what I know now, I believe I would have handled my conversations with Mr. Vasek differently. However, please know that I did not pressure Mr. Vasek to sign this statement or to make any decision with which he was not comfortable.

It has also been reported that I threatened not to ordain Mr. Vasek to be a Permanent Deacon. In fact, I met with Mr. Vasek and his wife in April of this year, and I told Mr. Vasek that I would ordain him. It was Mr. Vasek’s own decision not to be ordained with his class, a decision I only heard about later.

The judge has taken under consideration the motion for dismissal of the remaining counts against the Diocese of Crookston. Again, while we are dealing with this matter, I ask, please pray daily for a fair, just, and timely resolve to this matter. Join me in making each Friday a day of fasting and abstinence from eating meat as a sign that we know our most important sustenance comes from our loving God.