Fargo Woman Abuse Claims Against Retired Priest Under Investigation
The woman, who wants to be called "Jane", was a teenager in the 1970's when she says the abuse happened in the rectory at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church.
FARGO (KFGO) – A woman who claims that she was sexually abused by a Fargo Catholic priest decades ago says she hopes her story will encourage other victims to step forward.
The woman, who wants to be called “Jane”, was a teenager in the 1970’s when she says the abuse happened in the rectory at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church. In an interview with KFGO News, “Jane” says over the course of about three months, she was inappropriately touched by Fr. Jack Herron.
“He pulled me to his lap, smoking his cigar, holding me and all that kind of stuff and before you know it, there’s kissing and hugging and touching. Inside, I was having a battle in my mind, thinking ‘Oh God, I’m dirty, I’m dirty, I’m dirty. No one knows this secret. I’m dirty. I’m dirty.”
“Jane” says she reported the abuse to the Diocese of Fargo in the spring of 2018. She says the diocese treated her with compassion and says that her faith in the Catholic Church has not been shaken.
“I gave them my account of what happened and where it had happened. I described where the rectory was, the bedroom was, where his office was at and where his chair was. Probably the only thing I didn’t know was what kind of cigar he smoked.”
Diocese of Fargo Communications Director Paul Braun says Herron has not been allowed to perform his duties as a priest until the allegations against him can be investigated.
“Fr. Herron, who was retired and serving in a hospital as a chaplain outside of the Diocese of Fargo when the allegation was reported to us, had his faculties for the exercise of priestly ministry removed pending the outcome of any civil and canonical investigations” Braun said. “Our canonical investigation is still in progress, so we have no further comments.”
“Jane” says she’s not interested in filing a lawsuit against the Diocese of Fargo, but says an apology would be appreciated. “I don’t need money, I don’t want money. I would just want that priest to say that he’s sorry and that what he did was wrong.”
A telephone message left for Herron was not returned.
Herron served as a parochial vicar at St. Anthony’s in Fargo and at St. Michael’s in Grand Forks. He also served in Knox, Maddock, Fillmore, Bremen, Fessenden, and Michigan, ND. Beginning in 1989, he served as a full time military chaplain outside of the Diocese of Fargo until his retirement in 2017.