MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A Catholic diocese in Minnesota says its bishop denies coercing a deacon candidate into remaining silent about a priest he alleges abused him decades earlier.

The Diocese of Crookston says in a statement that   "categorically denies that he in any way forced, coerced or encouraged" Ronald Vasek not to report his allegations against Monsignor Roger Grundhaus.

The statement also says Vasek's allegations against Grundhaus were reported to law enforcement in 2011.

The diocese said it plans to conduct a thorough investigation and that it wouldn't be appropriate to comment further until it's completed.

Grundhaus, a retired former vicar general of the diocese, says he's been told not to talk about Vasek's lawsuit. He's been suspended from public ministry.


(earlier version

A Minnesota man who hopes to become a deacon in the Catholic Church is accusing his bishop of blackmailing him into keeping quiet about being abused by a beloved priest decades earlier.

Ronald Vasek says Bishop Michael Hoeppner of Crookston threatened to block his dream and to hurt his son's career as a priest.

Vasek is now suing the bishop and the northwestern Minnesota diocese.

His voice choked with emotion, Vasek told reporters Tuesday that his deep faith required him to come forward.

The lawsuit says Vasek was exploring becoming a deacon in 2010 when he reported the abuse to Hoeppner, who told him not to tell anyone. And he alleges the bishop coerced him into signing a retraction in 2015.