Fighting through tears on Tuesday, Todd Belrose recounted 35 years of pain resulting from alleged clergy sex abuse by Father Thomas Andert.
“Sadly, I just found out lately there are many more survivors, and as much as it breaks my heart, it also helps me,” Belsore said.
At a news conference announcing two newly-filed civil suits alleging priest sex abuse, Belrose and a former plaintiff said St. John’s Preparatory School priests should have helped young boys, not hurt them.
“Oh, they helped all right,” said abuse survivor Troy Bromlage. “They helped us drink more, use more and try to kill ourselves because we don’t feel whole.”
Andert was never put on the list of 18 credibly accused abbey monks that the abbey released back in 2003. That was despite the fact he was first accused of past abuse of a 14-year-old prep school student years earlier.
The abbey launched an internal investigation into the charge but later said it found no substantiation of abuse.
Instead, Andert was appointed prior and served as the Abbey’s second-in-command. He also served on the Abbey’s external review board and supervised other monks on restriction.
In February, Andert was reinstated into ministry after the abbey cleared him of past abuse claims.
“I can’t believe that Father Tom is back in a position where other people’s kids can be hurt,” Belrose said.
It’s not the first time Andert has been accused of abuse.
In 1994, he was forced out as headmaster of St. John’s Prep school after abuse allegations were made by a student, Ben Spanier.
Spanier battled depression and anxiety the next 20 years and took his life in December 2014.
“We thought we’d turned the corner here,” said attorney Jeff Anderson, who is representing Belrose and Doe 324 in the civil suits. “This is a turn back to the old ways and old times, it begs the question.”
The abbey released a statement saying, “Saint John’s Abbey denies the allegations set forth by the two Plaintiffs in today’s press conference and fully intends to defend both cases.”
Meantime, the clock is ticking on the Legislature’s Child Victim’s Act.
After May 25, the filing window expires, meaning no more civil suits from decades old abuse cases.
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