PRINCETON, Minn. (ChurchMilitant.com) - A traditionalist priest is facing criminal charges for sexually abusing a young girl.
Father Matthew Stafki, a member of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX), is accused of molesting his 9-year-old niece. The abuse allegedly began in 2019 and lasted three years, until May of this year.
According to the complaint (warning: explicit content), Stafki would visit the victim's home in Princeton and "would sometimes stay overnight." During his visits, he would touch the victim's breasts and genitals, kissing both areas.
"On one occasion, he told her to just enjoy the feeling of it," the complaint states. She remained silent about the abuse because the priest, her uncle, "told her more than once not to tell anyone."
The victim said one time Stafki had her "sit on top of him, facing him, and he would rub his genitals against hers." It continues:
She described one occasion when she was on top of the defendant and something slimy came out and onto her leggings. She stated on one occasion the defendant took off his pants and underwear and took her hand, trying to make her touch his genitals. Victim told him no and he put his clothes back on.
Victim stated the conduct happened multiple times and would usually end when someone knocked on the door to her room or the defendant heard someone come downstairs. Victim also stated the defendant showed her a video on his phone of a nude female rubbing against a nude male. She stated he showed her the video while they were laying on her bed.
According to a credible source who spoke with Church Militant, the victim finally broke down and told her father about the abuse over the summer. The father, Stafki's brother, confronted Stafki, who confessed "he had given into lust and had been doing things he shouldn't do."
Stafki also "admitted having Victim sit on his lap, kissing her and laying with her in her bed at night. He admitted having Victim touch his penis and that he touched her vagina and possibly her chest."
The charging document lists four felony charges against Stafki: three counts of criminal sexual conduct with a minor and one count of using electronic communication to describe sexual conduct with a child.
Stafki made his first appearance in Sherburne County Court on Oct. 27. His bail was set for $75,000. His next appearance is scheduled for Jan. 11, 2023.
Stafki was ordained for the SSPX in 2014 at the age of 27. He was raised near Oak Grove, MN, and comes from a large family of nine children. His older brother, Mark, is also a priest with the SSPX.
According to an October 2014 bulletin, Stafki entered seminary immediately after graduation from high school. His first assignment was at Holy Cross Priory in Nairobi, Kenya.
Before returning home to Minnesota in 2019, Stafki was assigned to St. Vincent de Paul Church in Kansas City, Missouri, and was also associated with the SSPX chapel in Bethany, Oklahoma.
The SSPX has failed to issue any public statement about Stafki, nor has it warned Catholics about the accused predator.
The Society has a lengthy track record of quietly sending abusive priests away rather than warning the flock about them. Former Superior General Bp. Bernard Fellay transferred numerous accused predator priests to new assignments, where they often abused again.
Current Superior General Fr. Davide Pagliarani also quietly sent away senior priest Fr. Patrick Groche in 2020, who confessed to abusing underage victim Claude when he was 16 years old in the SSPX Gabon mission in the 1980s. The story was first covered in Church Militant's Spotlight: SSPX — Black Trads Matter.
Church Militant contacted District Superior Fr. John Fullerton, SSPX spokesman James Vogel and SSPX attorneys Dan Lane and Eric Frankovitch with a number of questions, namely: whether the SSPX had received prior allegations of abuse about Stafki, what his current priestly status is and whether the Society would be issuing a public statement about his criminal charges.
Three days after our query and after the story broke, the SSPX issued a public response, characterizing Stafki's abuse as "grave crimes against chastity regarding a minor."
It also claimed, "Fr. Stafki was out of active ministry on sabbatical when the SSPX learned of the allegations."
The SSPX still refuses to answer why Fr. Stafki was sent on a three-year sabbatical in 2019, when he was only 35 years old, whether he had prior allegations of abuse and whether the Society is providing or paying for his criminal defense attorney.
11/15/22: This article was updated to include the SSPX's public statement.