Diocese of Winona’s Colletti resigns after details of 30-year-old sexual misconduct emerge

Monsignor Richard Colletti
Monsignor Richard Colletti

Monsignor Richard Colletti has resigned his positions with the Diocese of Winona as Vicar General and Chancellor.

The announcement of the resignation was contained in a Wednesday evening email from Bishop John Quinn to diocesan clergy.

“Monsignor Colletti’s resignation stems from recent media reports involving accusations of sexual misconduct with an adult female that dates back to 1986,” Quinn’s email said.

The bishop’s announcement coincided with a Rochester Post-Bulletin story published Thursday morning detailing a personal injury lawsuit filed in 1992 against Colletti, the Diocese, Saint Mary’s University and others.

Colletti admitted in court documents to having a sexual relationship with a female student he was counseling while on staff at Saint Mary’s. The lawsuit was closed in December 1993. Terms of the settlement are confidential.

Quinn’s email described Colletti’s service as Vicar General and Chancellor as “exemplary.”

“Monsignor Colletti tendered his resignation to me because of his concern that the situation would impede the effective administration and governance of the Diocese,” Quinn said in a statement Thursday.

Colletti was also assigned as rector of the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, pastor of St. Casimir’s Church and chaplain of the WSU Newman Center. Colletti has also resigned from his chaplain role, Quinn said Thursday; his other ministerial duties are under review.

“I am not able to address the specifics of the claim due to the Confidentiality Agreement signed between the parties to the lawsuit,” Quinn said in the statement. “The Diocese of Winona takes every allegation of clergy sexual misconduct very seriously and remains committed to upholding the inherent dignity of every person.”

Colletti, 63, had served in those roles since 2011. He had previously been assigned to a number of roles in the diocese in Rochester and Mankato dating back to the mid-1990s.

Colletti admitted in Winona County District Court documents filed in the early 1990s to an ongoing relationship with the woman he had been counseling. They met at Saint Mary’s, where she was a first-year student and Colletti was then the director of campus ministry.

Colletti soon started scheduling appointments almost daily, according to court records, with the two meeting for several months and the relationship eventually turning sexual in nature.

Colletti, having told diocese administration about the relationship, was eventually transferred to Rochester. It wasn’t clear whether Colletti and the woman had any contact after the suit was filed in 1992. She is in her 40s and now lives in a different state, the Post-Bulletin reported.

The revelation comes amid a time of growing uncertainty about the Diocese of Winona’s future and the close of the Minnesota Child Victims Act, which allowed a three-year window for victims of childhood sexual abuse to file civil claims against their abusers. The woman would not have qualified to file suit under the act because she was 18 at the time.

More than 100 cases seeking financial compensation for damages have been filed against the Winona diocese during that period, connected to incidents that date back in some cases to the 1940s, all against clergy members who either have died or are no longer active in the diocese.

The diocese has not clearly said yet whether it is considering bankruptcy protection, as the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis and others have done.

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