The Deacon's Bench

An unusual abuse accusation out of Minneapolis:

A man who alleges that he was sexually abused as a child by a con man posing as a Roman Catholic deacon went public Monday to challenge recent statements made about the case by the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

Ben Magler, now 28, has filed suit claiming that as an elementary school student he was molested by a deacon at St. Agnes Parish in St. Paul to whom he had gone for counseling. The supposed deacon, Thomas Kemp, later was discovered to be a fraud.

Last Thursday, the victim-advocates group Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) called a news conference to publicize the case. In response, the archdiocese said that Kemp never served as a deacon.

Magler said that statement is not true.

“I called him Deacon Tom,” he said, adding that he did so in front of church leaders who never corrected him. Magler also provided a photograph of a party at his home in which Kemp is wearing a clerical collar.

Archdiocese spokesman Dennis McGrath said Kemp might have been presenting himself as a deacon, but “that doesn’t change the fact that the faculties for a deacon, which have to be issued by the archbishop, were never issued. There is no question about that.”

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