ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA — ST. PAUL, Minn. -- An Anoka County jury sent a stern message yesterday to two Roman Catholic dioceses about responsibility for their priests' actions by awarding damages totaling about $3.5 million to a Columbia Heights, Minn., man who was sexually abused for years by a priest with a history of such abuse.
The judgment marked the first time in U.S. history that punitive damages have been assessed against the Catholic Church in any type of case, and only the second time a jury has awarded compensatory damages in a sexual abuse case involving a priest, according to plaintiff's attorney Jeffrey Anderson. The other sex abuse judgment was in Louisiana.
The jury decided after 3 1/2 days of deliberation that the Rev. Thomas Adamson's abuse of the plaintiff was but a part of a larger picture in which the Winona Diocese and the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis had tried to hide Father Adamson's 23-year history of sexually molesting boys.