Former Hastings priest acquitted in sexual assault of altar boy

A Dakota County jury acquitted Former Rev. Francis Hoefgen of two counts of first-degree criminal sexual assault on Tuesday. He was accused of sexually abusing a former altar boy at a Hastings, Minn. church.

The 64-year-old had been charged with repeatedly sexually abusing the boy at Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church in Hastings from the spring of 1989 to the fall of 1991 when the boy was 9 to 12 years old.

The jury deliberated for less than four hours.

"We respect the jury's decision in this matter and will always be grateful for the courage shown by the individual who came forward to share his story of the sexual abuse he said was inflicted upon him many years ago by the defendant. Proving beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime occurred 24-26 years ago without significant corroborating physical evidence of the crime itself is always a difficult task. Without such corroborating evidence the jury must render its decision based primarily upon one person's word against that of another," Dakota County attorney James Backstrom said.

BACKSTORY - Minnesota priest charged with sexual assault of altar boy from 1989-91

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