BishopAccountability.org
 
 

Rev. Robert Kapoun

Summary of Case: Known as the "Polka Padre", Kapoun had a band that played polka music at mass and at churches throughout Minnesota. Kapoun is known to have sexually abused adolescent boys as early as 1966, and throughout his career. He was the subject of five lawsuits, in 1989 and 1995. Archbishop Roach is said to have known of Kapoun's sexual abuse of children in at least 1973, when he was an auxiliary bishop, but took no action. Kapoun admitted to sexually abusing boys. He wasn't removed from ministry until 1996 when a victim went public, imploring the bishop to remove him. He was given early retirement in 1997, and paid a monthly amount by the archdiocese that exceeded his pension. In December 2013 Kapoun was known to be splitting his time between his lake front home in Cold Spring, Minnesota, and a home in Florida.

Ordained: 1964

Start Stop Assignment Town/Accusations State Position Notes

1964

Leo Binz was archbishop of St. Paul-Minneapolis (1961-1975)

1967 Holy Redeemer Montgomery MN

2/2

Pastor was Rev. Francis J. Tomek.

Parish had a school with 378-363 students.
1967 1971 St. Kevin

Minneapolis

Kapoun was accused in a 1995 lawsuit of sexually abusing a St. Kevin's altar boy and parish school student from 1966-1969.

MN

2/2

Kapoun worked under Rev. Robert A. Vashro.

Parish had a school with 335-253 students.

1971 1974 St. Raphael's

Crystal Village

Kapoun was accused in a 1989 civil suit of having sexually abused a 12 year-old St. Raphael's altar boy, who was also a student at the parish school, in 1973 and 1974.

In a 1995 lawsuit Kapoun was accused of sexually abusing a boy in 1973. The boy's father had died, and Kapoun is said to have stepped in as a "father figure". A parishioner is said to have reported the accusations to Bishop Roach, whose response was "Well, it might be true, and then again maybe it
isn't
."

MN

2/3

Pastor was Msgr. Stanley J. Smec. In the third spot were Revs. Robert J. Carlson in 1971-1972, James B. Finnegan 1972-1973, and Joseph L. Wajda 1973-1974.

Parish had a school with 614-578 students.

 

Wajda was accused in two 1989 lawsuits of sexually adolescent boys at St. Raphael's in 1973 and 1974. He was allowed to continue working as a priest until 2002.

1974

John Robert Roach replaced Binz as archbishop (1975-1995)

1976 Home of the Good Shepherd

St. Paul

Kapoun was accused in a 1995 lawsuit of sexually abusing a St. Raphael's altar boy and parish school student in 1975. Some of the abuse is said to have occurred at the Home of the Good Shepherd.

MN

Chaplain

A second chaplain, Rev. John Fitzpatrick, worked under Kapoun 1975-1976.

The Home of the Good Shepherd is characterized in the Directories as a protective institution. It had 60 girls.

1976 1977 Sick Leave        
1977 1984 St. Patrick's

Cedar Lake

In a 1995 lawsuit Kapoun was accused of abusing a boy at St. Patrick's in 1980 or 1981.

MN 1/1 Msgr. Smec testified in 1995 trial that in 1983 he reported allegations against Kapoun to Archbishop Roach.
1977 1984 St. Catherine's Spring Lake MN 1/1 Administrator St. Catherine's was a mission of St. Patrick's.
1984 1996 St. Scholastica Heidelberg MN 1/1 Roach testified in a 1996 trial that he allowed Kapoun to stay in ministry in 1987, despite knowing he had sexually abused boys, because he thought he was a "changed man" after he had received counseling, and that he found Kapoun to be "believable, holy, very honest...". Kapoun admitted to abusing boys, but denied abusing some of those who sued.
1984 1996 St. Joseph's Lexington MN 1/1

In Feb. 1996 a jury awarded one of Kapoun's victims $1.1 million in damages, but the MN Court of Appeals reversed the decision in 1997 on a technicality.

The archdiocese and Kapoun filed to collect $6,000 from the victim to defray legal expenses.

1991

Harry Joseph Flynn replaced Roach as archbishop (1995-2008)

1996 St. Thomas' St. Thomas MN 1/1 Kapoun was removed from the three parishes in which he was working in 1996 only after one of his victims went public.
1996 1998 Special Assignment   MN Chancery Pro Tem In 1997 Kapoun was given early retirement; he was paid monthly by the archdiocese an amount that exceeded his pension.
1998 2001 Special Assignment; Retired Cold Spring MN Chancery Pro Tem  
2001 2002 Retired      

No longer appears in Directories after 2002.

In an October 2013 interview Kapoun stated that he split his time between his lakefront property in Cold Spring, MN and a second home in Florida


Sources: Official Catholic Directory (New York: Kenedy & Sons, 1965-2002).

Polka Priest Accused of Sexual Misconduct, United Press International, August 22, 1989
Archdiocese Settles Suits Charging Abuse, Los Angeles Times, May 19, 1990
4 Suits Accuse Priest of Sexual Abuse, By Margaret Zack, Star Tribune, February 8, 1995
Man Wins $550,000 in Sex Assault by Priest, By Chip Johnson, Saint Paul Pioneer Press, February 8, 1996
Archdiocese Removes 'Polka Padre' after Molested Victim Goes Public, By Chip Johnson, Saint Paul Pioneer Press, February 9, 1996
Former Archbishop Testifies Priest Seemed Rehabilitated, By Chip Johnson, Saint Paul Pioneer Press, February 13, 1996
$ 600,000 More Awarded for Abuse, By Margaret Zack, Star Tribune, February 14, 1996
Archdiocese Fined More Than $1 Million, By Leslie Wirpsa, National Catholic Reporter, March 1, 1996
Archdiocese Admits Liablity for Abuse by 'Polka Padre', By Margaret Zack, Star Tribune, March 20, 1996
No Damages in Priestly Abuse Suit, By Margaret Zack, Star Tribune, March 26, 1996
Judge Won't Reduce Award of Damages, Star Tribune, April 16, 1996
Court Dismisses $ 1 Million Abuse Suit, By Margaret Zack, Star Tribune, May 28, 1997
Archdiocese, Priest Unlikely to Collect Legal Costs in Child Molestation Case, By Margaret Zack, Star Tribune, June 10, 1997
Lawyer: Archdiocese Not Billing, By Clark Morphew, Saint Paul Pioneer Press, June 13, 1997
Latest Polka Padre Ruling Hits Sour Note with Juror, By Doug Grow, Star Tribune, June 18, 1997
Special Reports: Catholic Bishops and Sex Abuse, Dallas Morning News, June 12, 2002
Minnesota Cases That Made Headlines, By Linda Scheimann, Star Tribune, February 28, 2004
For an Abusive Priest, Retirement Income Came with a Premium, By Madeleine Baran, Minnesota Public Radio, October 9, 2013
From the Archives: Polka Padre Kapoun Resigns over Abuse, By Dan Olson, Minnesota Public Radio, October 9, 2013
MN - Proven Predator Priest Gets Extra Pay & No Supervision; SNAP Responds, By Bob Schwiderski, Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, October 9, 2013
Proven Predator Priest Get Extra Pay & No Supervision, SNAP, October 10, 2013
Priest Sex Abuse Survivor Rails against Church, By Allen Costantini, KARE, October 11, 2013
Child Molesting Cleric Gets Monthly Bonus, SNAP, October 11, 2013
St Paul & Minneapolis List of Credibly Accused Priests, released Dec. 5, 2013



Priests in a Parish: We use the following convention to show a priest's place among the clergy of a parish: 1/2 means that he is the first priest listed in the Official Catholic Directory (usually the pastor) and that there is a total of two priests at the parish. The shorthand 3/4 means that the priest is listed third on a four-priest roster. See our sample page from the Directory.

Note: The Official Catholic Directory aims to report the whereabouts of Catholic priests in the United States on January 1 of the Directory's publication year. Our working assumption is that a priest listed in the Directory for a given year was at the same assignment for part of the previous year as well. However, Kenedy & Sons will sometimes accept updates well into the year of publication. Diocesan clergy records are rarely available to correct this information. The Directory is also sometimes misleading or wrong. We have tried to create an accurate assignment record, given the source materials and their limitations. Assignment records are a work in progress and we are always improving the records that we post. Please email us with new information and corrections.

This assignment record collates Kapoun's career history as it is represented in the Official Catholic Directory with allegations as reported in the media. We make no representation regarding the truth of the allegation we report, and we remind our readers that the U.S. legal system presumes that a person accused of or charged with a crime is innocent until proven guilty. Similarly, individuals who may be defendants in civil actions are presumed not to be liable for such claims unless a plaintiff proves otherwise. Admissions of guilt or liability are not typically a part of civil or private settlements. For more information, see our posting policy.

This assignment record was last updated on Dec. 8, 2013

 
 

Any original material on these pages is copyright © BishopAccountability.org 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.