by Dennis Dalman
Yet another cloud has darkened St. John’s Abbey when it was announced last week the abbey’s prior had stepped down, pending results of an allegation of sexual misconduct with a student three decades ago.
The Rev. Thomas Andert was replaced by interim prior Fr. Bradley Jenniges, OSB.
In a statement from the abbey, it was revealed a man wrote a letter to the abbey accusing Andert of sexual misconduct with him when he was a student at St. John’s Prep School 30 years ago. Andert has been a member of the abbey’s monastic community for 40 years. No other charges have been leveled against him during his long service at the abbey, according to abbey spokesman the Rev. Aelred Senna.
According to Senna, the letter from the man did not describe any specifics other than “sexual misconduct.” No further information was released about the accuser. The accusation was referred to a review board for investigation. In the meantime, the abbey notified the alleged victim with contact numbers for the Stearns County Sheriff’s Department so he could make a complaint to law enforcement should he so choose.
There have been 18 monks at St. John’s Abbey who have had “credible” claims of sexual misconduct brought against them in the past 40 years, according to lists released in recent years under threat of legal action.