On April 15, 2014, Father Jerome Kern was deposed under oath as part of a sexual abuse lawsuit filed in Minnesota in November, 2013. On June 24, 2014 the deposition video and documents from Kern’s file were released to the public. Kern admits to sexually abusing children during his 30+ year career as a priest in the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis and documents show how officials failed to prevent Kern from abusing more children despite reports of inappropriate behavior with children dating back to 1969.
Ordained December 17, 1966, Father Jerome Kern spent his entire career working in parishes throughout Minnesota. The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis received reports of Kern’s inappropriate sexual misconduct with minor children as early as 1969, yet Kern remained in ministry until 2002.
Father Kern worked at St. Mark’s in St. Paul, Minnesota, where the first allegations of abuse surfaced in 1969. Kern was subsequently transferred to Our Lady of Grace in Edina, Minnesota, where he continued to sexually abuse children. In 1973, Kern was transferred to Immaculate Heart of Mary where he sexually abused survivor Al Michaud.
In the early 1980s, one of Kern’s sexual abuse victims wrote a letter to then Archbishop Roach who never responded to the letter. In approximately 1987, the mothers of two boys abused at St. Mark’s met with Father Michael O’Connell and Bishop Robert Carlson and reported Kern’s sexual abuse of their sons. Both Carlson and O’Connell believed Kern committed these acts. That same year, Father Rinaldo Carlson, co-pastor with Kern at Immaculate Heart of Mary, met with Father O’Connell and told O’Connell that Kern had a habit of pulling 6- to 11-year-old boys onto his lap and tickling them. Kern issued an apology letter to the two survivors and their mothers.
In approximately 1992-1993, survivor Al Michaud met with then Vicar General Kevin McDonough and reported Kern’s sexual abuse while he was a young boy at Immaculate Heart of Mary. McDonough told Michaud that Kern’s file would make Michaud angry and openly cried while reviewing Kern’s file. Two weeks later, Michaud called McDonough to determine what had been done about Kern and McDonough told Michaud he didn’t have time to deal with it. Michaud subsequently filed a lawsuit against Kern and the Archdiocese which later settled.
During a 1994 deposition, Kern admitted to putting his hand on one victim’s stomach, chest, lower stomach, and inside his bathing suit while swimming. Kern also admitted he touched Al Michaud’s genitals on the outside of his swimsuit and touched his chest and stomach in the sauna. As part of the settlement, the Archdiocese told Michaud that Kern would not work in another parish or be around children.
Kern’s assignment and work location from 1995 are unknown, but in 1996, Father Jerome Kern was assigned to St. Peter’s in Forest Lake, Minnesota, where there is a grade school and religious education program. Father Kern is believed to be residing in St. Paul, Minnesota, as of November 2013.