COLLEGEVILLE, Minn. - A St. John's Prep School alumnus who maintains a website that is critical of St. John's Abbey and its handling of clergy sex abuse was kicked off the Collegeville campus last weekend while he was attending a class reunion.
Patrick Marker was on the campus for a reunion of his 1983 Prep School class when a Stearns County sheriff's deputy told him that the Prep School wanted him removed from the property. Marker, who is a survivor of sexual abuse by St. John's Abbey monk Dunstan Moorse, had been invited by the Prep School to attend the reunion.
Marker traveled from Washington state to attend and was eating lunch under a tent near the Prep School with other Prep graduates when the deputy approached and told Marker that St. John's Life Safety wanted him off campus.
A report written by the Stearns County deputy doesn't indicate that Marker was doing anything disorderly or disrupting to be removed from the campus. The Times asked to speak to new Prep School headmaster Rev. Jonathan Licari, or a designate of his choosing, about Marker's removal.
The school issued a two-sentence statement in response.
"St. John's Prep responded to a history of hostility in asking an alumnus to leave our private event," it read. "We felt it was in the best interests of our guests to ask this person to leave so that others could enjoy the reunion."
Bill Neuhauser, who graduated in Marker's Prep class, said he was enjoying the reunion until an officer from Life Safety approached Marker and asked him to leave. That was followed by a request from the Stearns County deputy for Marker to leave.
Neuhauser said he didn't witness any behavior before that by Marker that was anything other than normal behavior from a person attending a class reunion.
"While we were there, he did nothing, zilch, zero, other than being another alumni just like the rest of us," Neuhauser said. "There was nothing brought up about his website or history or anything. There were no accusations made about anybody, even (at a separate gathering of Prep alumnae) the night before."
Marker's website, www.behindthepinecurtain.com, has posted extensive information about the clergy sex abuse crisis, much of it involving St. John's monks and priests. Members of St. John's Abbey in the past have criticized Marker and his website, saying that some of the information he has posted is incorrect.
Sheriff's office reports indicate that St. John's Life Safety told deputies that they made requests of Marker "weeks before the event" that he not show up. Marker denies being contacted in any way about not attending the reunion and said he wouldn't have bought a plane ticket from Washington and traveled to Collegeville knowing that he was going to be kicked out.
"To the contrary," Marker said. "They invited me, and I never would have attended if I thought there was going to be a scene made and draw attention to myself and embarrass my classmates."
Many of Marker's classmates know about his history as an abuse survivor and the website he has created, Neuhauser said.
"We all know the stories," Neuhauser said. "We know the history, and we all commend Pat for being the one to bring all of this up."
The fact that the Prep School invited Marker to the reunion was something that Neuhauser saw as at least somewhat conciliatory by the school.
"I thought that maybe the school had offered an olive branch here, like 'hey, let's all get along,' " Neuhauser said.
But when he saw Marker being forced to leave campus during an otherwise peaceful and enjoyable summer weekend, that opinion quickly changed.
We have all been rudely interrupted, is what Neuhauser recalls as his reaction at the time. He plans to send a letter to Abbot John Klassen expressing his displeasure with what happened.
"From this point forward, we are going to have our (reunion) gatherings off campus," Neuhauser said. "I have no reason to go back on campus again."
Marker acknowledged that he has a strained relationship with St. John's Prep, the abbey and the university and that he has been asked to leave campus before. However, there is no restraining order in place that prevents Marker from entering the campus.
And while Neuhauser said he won't be back on campus, the incident did more than mean the end of his physical attachment to the school. He was disheartened in his adult years to learn about the clergy abuse that was going on while he was a teenager at Prep, he said.
And then came the conduct last weekend that he called "unprofessional, unexpected and uncalled for."
"I'm embarrassed to say I went to school there," Neuhauser said. "This really put the nail in the coffin."