- Associated Press - Thursday, August 20, 2015

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - The No. 2 leader at St. John’s Abbey, the Rev. Tom Andert, has stepped aside because of a sexual misconduct allegation involving a former student at St. John’s Preparatory School, the monastery said Thursday.

The abbey’s spokesman, the Rev. Aelred Senna, told Minnesota Public Radio (https://bit.ly/1fsKiZP ) in an email that Andert will “step back from public ministry and from his work until an investigation is completed.”

Andert declined to comment. As prior of the abbey, he was responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Benedictine monastery in Collegeville and monk-in-charge when the abbot was away.

Senna said the decision to remove Andert came in response to a letter sent earlier this month by a former student at St. John’s Prep.

“The letter alleged sexual misconduct by Father Tom Andert, but had very few details,” Senna said. “In spite of the lack of detail in the allegation, we have implemented our policy … and referred the letter writer to a Victim’s Advocate and offered support for counseling.”

The letter alleged sexual misconduct by Andert more than three decades ago but contained very few details, Senna said.

Senna said the abbey had referred the allegation to its review board and declined to provide further details on the complaint.

“In fairness to all involved and because the complainant requested strict confidentiality, we will be releasing no further information until a determination of fact can be made,” he said.

Senna said he didn’t know if the abbey reported the allegation to law enforcement although he said it’s the abbey’s policy to do that.

Local law enforcement had no record of any such report, said Lt. Jon Lentz of the Stearns County sheriff’s office.

St. John’s Abbey issued a list in December of 18 names of current and former monks who it said had likely sexually abused minors. Half of them were still living at the abbey under supervision. The abbey founded the prep school and St. John’s University.

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Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News, https://www.mprnews.org

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