May 24, 2005

Ex-Rogers priest convicted for sexual misconduct, theft

Star News

John Joseph Bussmann, a former priest of the Mary Queen of Peace congregations in Rogers and Fletcher, was convicted last week of sexual misconduct and theft charges involving a female employee and parishioner when he served as a priest there.

According to Hennepin County Attorney Amy Klobuchar, after a one-week trial and one day of deliberations, a jury convicted Bussmann, 51, of one count of theft over $500 (a felony), one count of theft by swindle over $500 (a felony), one count of fifth degree criminal sexual conduct (a gross misdemeanor) and one count of indecent exposure (a misdemeanor). He will be sentenced July 11 in front of Hennepin County District Judge Diana Eagon. Bussmann also remains charged with two counts of third degree criminal sexual conduct involving two other female parishioners. Those cases will be tried in July.

Bussmann was a priest at St. Martin’s Catholic Church in Rogers and St. Walburga’s Catholic Church in Fletcher from 2000–03 (These churches merged in 2002 to form the Mary Queen of Peace congregation). The Archdiocese removed Bussmann as a priest in March 2003.

The victim in this case, said Klobuchar, was a church employee and parishioner. The victim testified that, around April 2001, Bussmann summoned her to the rectory stating that there was water in the basement. She went over to the building and entered the basement. When she got to the bottom of the stairs, she discovered there was no water leaking. Bussmann then walked into the basement naked and stood at the bottom of the stairs so she could not leave. On another occasion, Bussmann purchased a gift for the victim. When she went to his office to thank him, he gave her a hug, rubbing her buttocks and touching her breasts over her clothing. She pushed herself away, packed her belongings and left her employment the same day.

Posted by kshaw at May 24, 2005 06:04 PM