Minnesota Nun Molested Boy, JVW Attorneys File Suit: First Case Filed Under New Law Against Nuns

News Release: For immediate release

PRESS CONFERENCE: 2 p.m., Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Where: 333 Washington Ave. N., Suite 300, Minneapolis 55401

Victim to speak with reporters

(MINNEAPOLIS, April 29, 2015) – Attorneys today filed a new civil lawsuit against an order of nuns, and the Diocese of New Ulm, alleging sexual abuse of a 10-year-old boy repeatedly molested by a nun at a Catholic school in Madison, Minnesota.  This is the first civil lawsuit filed against an order of nuns under Minnesota’s new law for sex-abuse victims.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of a 58-year-old man from Shakopee, Minnesota, alleges that a nun repeatedly abused the boy in his fifth-grade year, from the fall of 1967 through spring 1968, at St. Michael’s Catholic School in Madison, Minnesota.  Court papers say Sister Mary Regina repeatedly fondled the boy’s genitals during school hours.

Court papers identify the boy as John Doe 117. Since serving the lawsuit, the victim has decided to reveal his identity, to encourage other victims of sexual abuse to come forward.

The man referenced in the lawsuit, Douglas Devorak of Shakopee, Minnesota, will speak with reporters at a press conference at 2 p.m., Wednesday, April 29th at the law office of James, Vernon, Weeks’ co-counsel: Minneapolis attorney Patrick Noaker’s office, 333 Washington Avenue N., Suite 300.

 “I do not need to be anonymous anymore,” Devorak said. “I am a survivor. I did not do anything wrong.  I need to get the truth out and tell my story to heal.”

Devorak’s attorneys, which includes James Vernon Weeks’ law partners Lee James and Craig Vernon, are now investigating possible additional claims of sexual abuse by nuns at St. Michael’s Catholic School. The legal team also is investigating claims of child sexual abuse involving at least one other order of nuns.

“It wasn’t just the priests, who sexually abused kids,” said Lee James, one of the country’s leading experts on Catholic clergy sexual abuse of children.  Lee James and Craig Vernon represent more than 110 victims with claims against nuns in other states.

“It’s harder for male victims to speak out and say they were abused by nuns,” James said. “This is the next wave of abuse claims we expect to see. They’ve been covered up, and we are here to uncover the truth.”

Craig Vernon said Sister Mary Regina’s actions followed a pattern of abuse seen elsewhere, where nuns didn’t just beat kids but also molested or sexually assaulted them.

“In some cases, the abuse has been just as bad as or worse than the abuse we’ve seen from priests,” Vernon said.  “Nun abuse often includes physical abuse and sometimes even masochism.”

St. Michael’s Catholic School in Madison was overseen by the Diocese of New Ulm. Nuns from the School Sisters of Notre Dame Pacific Central Province, Inc., headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, taught at the school.

The lawsuit says both the Diocese and the School Sisters were negligent in allowing Sister Mary Regina to have unsupervised and unlimited access to young children and teenagers. The lawsuit also says that as a result of the sexual abuse, Dvorak suffered years of extreme anxiety and permanent emotional distress.

The School Sisters of Notre Dame are members of an international order of religious women, founded in Bavaria in 1833, according to the order’s web site. The first sisters arrived in North America in 1847. The order devotes itself to primary, secondary and post-secondary education.

“It is shocking and sad that nuns who should have protected children molested them,” said Pat Noaker, co-counsel.
Plaintiffs’ attorneys:

James, Noaker and Vernon are veteran sex-abuse attorneys who successfully have represented hundreds of victims across the country. They teamed up last year to help child sexual-abuse survivors under Minnesota’s new law allowing victims previously barred by statutes of limitation to bring forth claims and hold institutions accountable. They have pooled their resources, experience and legal staffs to take on powerful institutions, believing they could do more together than they could as individual attorneys.

Leander James is a longtime attorney with a nationwide practice. James has helped bring about institutional change for the protection of children and secured hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements and verdicts for abuse victims in cases against Catholic Dioceses and other religious organizations. James currently represents nearly 300 abuse survivors in a case against the Diocese of Helena, Montana. James also represented 135 abuse victims in a Jesuit bankruptcy case in Portland, Oregon. James is managing partner at James Vernon and Weeks with offices in Seattle and in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

Craig Vernon has 20 years of litigation experience.  In the past several years, Vernon has dedicated his practice to representing people who have been sexually abused by those in positions of power.  Vernon has successfully secured multi-million dollar settlements and verdicts.  He has represented survivors of sexual abuse in Montana, Hawaii, New York, Washington, and Minnesota as well as other states across the country.  Vernon is a founding shareholder at James Vernon & Weeks, with offices in Seattle, Washington and Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

Patrick Noaker of Noaker Law Office is an attorney with 24 years’ experience, who has successfully represented hundreds of sex-abuse victims across the country against various religious entities.  Minnesota SuperLawyers identifies him among the top attorneys in Minnesota.

Minnesota: How Long Do Abuse Survivors Have to Seek Justice?

Claims Bar Deadline vs. “Window” Legislation Deadline for Abuse Claims

By Attorney Craig Vernon 

Question:  What does the Aug. 3, 2015 deadline to file a sex-abuse claim in the bankruptcy case against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis mean in light of the May 2016 deadline set by the Minnesota Legislature? What date controls? Do I have until next spring to bring a claim or do I have to come forward before August 3, 2015?

Answer: The short answer is it depends on whether your claim is against the Archdiocese or some other Diocese or entity/perpetrator.

It is critical that survivors understand that they only have until Aug. 3, 2015 to file a claim against the Archdiocese. This is because of the ruling by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Kressel, within the Archdiocese bankruptcy. If your claim is against another diocese within Minnesota, such the Diocese of New Ulm, for example, you have until May of 2016 to file a claim. This May 2016 deadline also applies if your case is against a secular organization or against a religious entity that’s not Catholic.

So, the Aug. 3rd deadline applies only to claims against the Archdiocese where federal bankruptcy law controls. At this time, all other claims are controlled by the “window legislation,” which is a Minnesota state law that has established the May 2016 deadline.

With deadlines fast approaching, we’re doing our best to reach out to those still weighing a decision to come forward and seek justice.  This can be complicated, but we’re here to help survivors through the legal maze. Now is the time to contact an attorney if you’re contemplating filing a claim or a case.

Here is where you can find the form to a claim in the Archdiocese bankruptcy case:


Lee James, Craig Vernon and Pat Noaker are veteran sex-abuse attorneys who successfully have represented hundreds of victims across the country. They teamed up to help child sexual-abuse survivors under Minnesota’s new law allowing victims previously barred by statutes of limitation to bring forth claims and hold institutions accountable. They have pooled their resources, experience and legal staffs to take on powerful institutions, believing they could do more together than they could as individual attorneys.


Lee James: (208) 667-0683, ljames@jvwlaw.net

Craig Vernon: (208) 667-0683, cvernon@jvwlaw.net

Pat Noaker: (612) 839-1080, patrick@noakerlaw.com

Minnesota Victims’ Attorneys web site: http://www.clergyabuseinminnesota.com

BREAKING NEWS: Minnesota Man FIles Lawsuit, Says He Was Abused By A Nun

“Our parents trusted these people with our moral and religious upbringing,” Douglas Devorak told reporters today. “And people say, ‘Doug, why did you wait so long?’ And the answer’s real simple: My parents couldn’t have taken that.”

–Douglas Devorak, age 58, abuse survivor (WCCO-CBS affiliate in Minneapolis).

Read more here: http://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2015/04/29/lawsuit-minn-man-says-he-was-abused-by-a-nun/

Why We Fight for Justice

“I want closure.”

That’s a hope shared with us by one of our clients, who was repeatedly sexually abused by three different clergy. It’s a simple statement that says so much. It’s a wish for peace of mind. It’s a desire to put the past to rest. It’s a desire to hold accountable three ordained priests, who sexually violated a boy in his early teens. It’s a hope that no other child will suffer the same unreported and un-prosecuted criminal assault.

Welcome to our blog.

We at James Vernon & Weeks, P.A. are dedicated to the legal fight against child sexual abuse. Our legal team offers experienced, compassionate, and aggressive legal representation. Currently, we handle cases in Idaho, Washington, Hawaii, Minnesota, Montana, Wisconsin, California and New Mexico.

We dedicate this space to the survivors of sexual abuse. In the coming weeks and months, we’ll be sharing our thoughts about our current cases, as well as trends in this area of law. We’d love to hear from you.

Lee James (ljames@jvwlaw.net), 208-763-3274

Craig Vernon (cvernon@jvwlaw.net), 208-763-3270