Statement Regarding Reinstatement of Reverend James Devorak

From Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda

I have accepted the recommendation of the Archdiocesan Ministerial Review Board (MRB) and the Director of the Office of Ministerial Standards and Safe Environment to return Father James Devorak to ministry in the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis.

Father Devorak is a retired priest of the Diocese of New Ulm who has served parishes in the Archdiocese since 2015.

In July 2017, an accusation of an alleged single incident of sexual abuse said to have occurred in 1995 was reported to the Glencoe Police Department.  On August 31, 2017, the Glencoe Police Department announced that it had completed its investigation, that Father Devorak had fully cooperated in the investigation and that no charges would be brought.  Further, Chief of Police James Raiter issued a letter stating that “[a]fter a thorough and exhaustive investigation into this allegation by Captain Wyatt Bienfang, the facts became clear that this one allegation was unfounded, meaning the allegation had no merit.  It is my hope that this one allegation will not over shadow the life’s work of Father James Devorak.” (Chief Raiter’s September 8, 2017 letter is posted on the Archdiocesan website)

On October 6, 2017, the Diocese of New Ulm Clergy Review Board recommended that Father Devorak’s authority to engage in ministry be reinstated.  Also on October 6, 2017, Monsignor Douglas Grams, Vicar General of the Diocese of New Ulm, informed the Archdiocese in writing that Father Devorak had been reinstated to ministry.  In his letter, Monsignor Grams stated that other than the 1995 allegation there are no other allegations in Father Devorak’s past.  Additionally, Monsignor Grams wrote that “[o]n October 5, 2017, Jeff Anderson [an attorney retained by the accuser] called Tom Weiser [an attorney retained by the Diocese of New Ulm] to let him know Jeff Anderson’s office was withdrawing from the representation of the individual who made the claim against Father Devorak.  Mr. Anderson stated his office had conducted its due diligence review and did not want a cloud over Father Devorak because of his client’s claim.”

The Archdiocesan MRB, which comprised mostly of laypersons, conducted a thorough review of Father Devorak’s case.  The MRB determined that there was no basis to find that any abuse occurred and recommended that Father Devorak be reinstated to full ministry.  Judge Tim O’Malley, the Director of Ministerial Standards and Safe Environment, also reviewed this entire matter and was present for the MRB’s deliberations.  He concurred with the MRB’s findings and agreed that Father Devorak be reinstated.  I have reviewed these recommendations and the basis for them.  I support the findings of the MRB and Director O’Malley, and agree that Father Devorak should be permitted to exercise public ministry in this Archdiocese.

I ask for your prayers and support for all who have suffered sexual abuse and for their families, as well as for Father Devorak and all of our priests.