Rev. Gilbert J. Gustafson

Summary of Case: In 1982 the parents of a 15-year-old boy complained to the archdiocese that Gustafson had been sexually abusing their son for five years. Gustafson admitted the abuse, and that he had sexually abused two other boys. He was criminally charged and pleaded guilty to the abuse of the boy whose parents complained. Gustafson was fined $40.00 and sentenced to six months in jail. He served 4 1/2 months of the sentence. In 2000 Gustafson was accused of sexually abusing a girl for five years, beginning in 1977. Gustafson denied abusing her. His accuser in that case sued the archdiocese in 2002, and received a settlement in 2005. The archdiocese allowed him from 1983 on to work as a researcher and assistant in the chancery, to serve on an interfaith board on sexual trauma, and to serve as chaplain at a monastery for cloistered nuns. Gustafson wasn't removed from ministry until June 2002, when the U.S. bishops adopted a "zero tolerance" policy regarding the sexual abuse of children by clergy. He began receiving disability payments through the Pension Plan for Priests in 2006 because of his pedophilia. In 2007 Gustafson was quoted as saying he was "on leave". In 2009 he was hired by Christo Rey Jesuit High School as a leadership consultant, and in 2010-2011 Gustafson was involved with a leadership training program at a Minneapolis monastery for nuns. Vicar General, Rev. Kevin McDonough, said in 2014 that he believed Gustafson had between 4 and 15 victims.

: 1977
Incardinated: St. Paul and Minneapolis


Start Stop Parish/Assignment Town/Accusations State Position Notes

June 15, 1977

St. Paul and Minneapolis archbishop was John Robert Roach (1975-1995).

June 15, 1982 St. Mary of the Lake

White Bear Lake

Gustafson admitted in the early 1980s to sexually abusing three boys during his time at St. Mary's. He abused one of the boys for five years, beginning in 1977, when the boy was a 10-year-old altar boy. His parents became aware of the abuse in 1982 and told church officials.

A woman reported to the archdiocese in 2000 that Gustafson sexually abused her for five years, beginning when she was five years old in 1977. She said the abuse happened at St. Mary of the Lake school (which she attended), in her family's home, and on vacation. Gustafson denied abusing her.


2/2, 2/3

Administrator May 31, 1978-July 7, 1978

St. Mary of the Lake had a school with 205-211 students.











Gustafson's female accuser received a settlement from the archdiocese in 2005.



1978 1979 Archdiocesan Personnel Board     member  
1979 1981 Commission for Continuing Education of Priests St. Paul MN chairman  
June 15, 1982 Sept. 1, 1982 Continuing Education and Spiritual Growth for Priests     associate director  

Sept. 1, 1982

Washington DC archbishop was James Aloysius Hickey (1980-2000).

Jan. 1, 1983 Special Assignment/Catholic University Washington DC student Gustafson was sent for treatment. He pleaded guilty in 1983 to sexually abusing the boy whose parents complained. He was fined $40.00 and sentenced to six months in jail. He served 4 1/2 months of the sentence.
1982 1987 Special Assignment/Chancery/Catholic Charities St. Paul MN

pro tem

At the time of his removal from ministry in 2002, Gustafson was, among other things, doing research for the archdiocese and working as an aide to administrators.

In 1988 Bishop Carlson wrote to Archbishop Roach that Gustafson was also inclined toward "some inappropriate sexual acting out" with late adolescent girls.
1983 1988 St. Matthew's St. Paul MN associate priest This assignment is per the archdiocese in Dec. 2013.
Aug. 1,1988

Harry Joseph Flynn replaced Roach as St. Paul and Minneapolis archbishop (1995-2008).

May 31, 2002 St. Peter's Mendota MN 2/2, 3/3, 2/3

in residence

St. Peter's had a religious education program with 579-333 students.

Archbishop Roach pushed to have Gufstason returned to ministry, saying in 1990 “I want him back in a parish. He has received and complied with far more treatment than anyone else, and it seems to me he has done it well.”

The boy Gustafson was convicted of abusing for 5 years deteriorated psychologically and behaviorally. He contracted AIDs and, as he was dying, his father asked former vicar general Rev. Kevin McDonough for financial help for his son's hospice care and medical bills. He was refused. Gustafson's victim died at age 28, in 1995.

  2002 Interfaith Sexual Trauma Institute, St. John's Abbey and University Collegeville MN board member

Gustafson gave talks as an expert on sex abuse to Catholic and Protestant clergy groups. Archbishop Flynn stated that Gustafson's work was making "a contribution to the Church and to society".

  2002 Poor Clares Monastery Bloomington MN chaplain

This assignment is per news reports.

Gustafson is not indexed beyond the 2002 Directory.

He was removed from ministry in May 31, 2002


John Clayton Nienstedt succeeded Flynn

2014   St. Paul MN  

In 2007 Gustafson was reported by a news outlet as "on leave" and receiving a stipend from the Church.

The archdiocese helped Gustafson establish a leadership consulting business, and referred clients to him. They included Pax Christi Church in Eden Prairie and the University of St. Thomas.

A woman who attended a National Ministry Summit in Florida in 2008 was outraged to see Gustafson there, and wrote a letter of complaint to Archbishop Nienstedt .

In 2009 he was hired by Christo Rey Jesuit High School as a leadership consultant. The school's president knew of his sexual abuse history.

Gustafson is shown on the website for the Visitation Monastery in Minneapolis as having been involved in a 2010-2011 leadership training program. His history was known by the Monastery's sisters.

In 2014 it was revealed that, in addition to his archdiocesan provided living expenses, since 2006 Gustafson was receiving disability payments, because of his pedophilia .


Sources: Official Catholic Directory (New York: P.J. Kenedy and Sons, 1978-2002)

Church Not Ignoring Abuse, Flynn Tells Local Catholics By Stephen Scott, Saint Paul Pioneer Press, May 24, 2002
Parents of Abused Man Seek Justice, By Rick Linsk, Saint Paul Pioneer Press, May 26, 2002
Accused Minnesota Priests Still Working, By Rick Linsk and Charles Laszewski, Pioneer Press, May 26, 2002
Twin Cities: Catholics Take First Steps to Implement Abuse Policy, By Stephen Scott, Saint Paul Pioneer Press, June 22, 2002
Statement of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis in Response to Mr. Jeffrey Anderson's Press Conference of Thursday, October 17, PR Newswire, October 17, 2002
Woman Seeks Sex-Abuse Settlement with Archdiocese, By Pam Louwagie, Star Tribune, October 18, 2002
Suit: Archdiocese Ejected Abuse Talks, Woman Who Says She Was Molested As Child Says Flynn Rejected Negotiations Proposal, By Warren Wolfe, Star Tribune, November 26, 2002
Woman Settles Sex-Abuse Lawsuit against Archdiocese, By Bob von Sternberg, Star Tribune, October 6, 2005
Archdiocese Settles Abuse Claim, Woman Also Wins Rare Apology from Church, By Steve Scott, Saint Paul Pioneer Press, October 6, 2005
Sins of Thy Neighbor, By Trish Van Pilsum, My Fox Twin Cities [Minnesota], February 1, 2007
Visitation Monastery of Minneapolis website
St. Paul & Minneapolis List of Credibly Accused Priests, released December 3, 2013
Priests with Credible Claims against Them of Sexual Abuse of a Minor, The Catholic Spirit, December 5, 2013
St. Paul & Minneapolis List of Credibly Accused Priests, released December 5, 2013
Archdiocese Names 34 Priests Accused of Sexually Abusing Minors, By Tony Kennedy, Star Tribune, December 5, 2013
Number of Alleged Sex Abusers Greater Than Church Has Revealed, By Madeleine Baran, Minnesota Public Radio, February 19, 2014
Accused Priests: Who They Are, Where They’ve Served, What’s Alleged, MPR News, Feb. 20, 2014
Bericht: Padophiler Us-priester Erhalt Berufsunfahigkeitspension, kathweb, February 23, 2014
Priest on disability ... , By Scott Kauafmn, Raw Story, February 23, 2014
Abusive Priest Gets Disability, Support from Twin Cities Archdiocese, By Tony Kennedy and Jean Hopfensperger, Star Tribune, February 23, 2014
Priest’s paedophilia classified as a ‘disability’ ..., By Barry Duke, Freethinker (UK), February 26, 2014
St. Paul Archbishop Said He Tried to Limit "Total Disclosure" of Suspected Abusive Priests, but Has Changed Approach, By Emily Gurnon, Pioneer Press, April 22, 2014
Former Church Official Disputes Archbishop's Clergy Abuse Testimony, By Madeleine Baran, Minnesota Public Radio, April 24, 2014
Pedophile Priest Getting Salary, Health Insurance, Living Expenses Vs. Prison, By Mike Bryant, Legal Examiner, May 16, 2014
Archbishop Makes Vow, Breaks It, By Madeleine Baran, Minnesota Public Radio, July 21, 2014
Cover-up Unravels from the Inside, By Madeleine Baran, Minnesota Public Radio, July 21, 2014
The Church Protects its Own, By Madeleine Baran, Minnesota Public Radio, July 21, 2014

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This assignment record was last updated on Aug. 5, 2014.