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Former monks added to abuse list, two served in Carlton County

Three monks who served at parishes within the Diocese of Duluth decades ago have been added to a Minnesota monastery's list of priests credibly accused of child sexual abuse.

The Revs. Casimir Plakut, Augustine John Strub and James Kelly were added this week to the list of clerics "likely to have offended against minors" by St. John's Abbey of Collegeville. The three former monks, who have all since died, were never before publicly named.

Two of the men served in Cloquet for a time and one of them also in Sawyer and Brookston.

Plakut served at St. Stanislaus Church in Swan River in 1938, St. Clement's Church in Duluth from 1939-41 and Holy Family Missions in Cloquet from 1952-53, according to his assignment history. He later left the abbey and went on to work under an assumed name (Father Francis J. Michael) in Nebraska and Texas, dying in 1988.

Strub did missionary assignments at Holy Family in Cloquet, St. Patrick in Brookston and the Church of Mary and Joseph in Sawyer in 1951. He also served at St. Mary's Hospital in Duluth from 1960-61. He left the priesthood by 1962 and died in 2015.

Kelly served at St. Joseph's Church in Ball Club from 1968-72, according to his assignment history. The abbey said he left St. John's in 1973 and was formally dismissed from the priesthood in 1976. He died in 2011.

"Saint John's Abbey, in keeping with its policies and practices, intends to make public documents related to these individuals at a future date," the abbey said in a statement. "However, those documents must first be redacted to remove the names and other identifying details to protect innocent parties mentioned in the documents."

Jeff Anderson, a St. Paul attorney representing child sexual abuse victims, said he and his clients in recent months have settled 17 lawsuits brought against the abbey by abuse victims. He said nearly 80 lawsuits were brought against St. John's monks under the Minnesota Child Victims Act, which opened a three-year window for victims of decades-old abuse cases to file suit. A total of 21 monks have been publicly identified by the abbey as credibly accused.

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