RELIGION

Lawsuit accuses Minnesota bishop of suppressing abuse report

A man who says he was abused by a priest 46 years ago is suing Bishop Michael Hoeppner (HEP'-ner) and the Diocese of Crookston in Minnesota, alleging the bishop coerced him into signing a document saying the abuse never happened.

The lawsuit says Ronald Vasek was exploring whether to become a deacon in 2010 when he reported the abuse to Hoeppner. He says the bishop advised him not to tell anyone. It also alleges Hoeppner suppressed his report by threatening to make it hard for him to become a deacon, and threatening Vasek's son's career as a priest.

Attorney Jeff Anderson says it's the first time a U.S. bishop has been sued individually for coercion.

The diocese's vicar general, Monsignor Michael Foltz, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.