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The monastic community of St. John's Abbey on Tuesday selected a longtime educational leader as the 11th abbot of the central Minnesota Benedictine monastery.

The monks elected the Rev. Douglas Mullin to serve in the role left vacant by the Rev. John Klassen, who recently resigned ahead of his 75th birthday, which he was required to do.

Klassen, who led the abbey for 23 years, was the face of the organization as it reckoned with rampant sexual abuse by nearly two dozen monks that was kept hidden for years.

The abbey has faced dozens of lawsuits following multiple accusations of sex abuse by monks in the past few decades. As part of a settlement, the abbey was ordered to turn over the files of every St. John's monk accused of abuse. The abbey now lists 21 monks credibly accused of sexually abusing children, with four who still live on campus.

Mullin is not on that list. But he was the subject of court proceedings in 2016 following allegations of abuse. That spring, the abbey filed seven lawsuits in district court on behalf of plaintiffs who submitted abuse complaints in the final weeks of the window created by the Minnesota Child Victims Act.

One of the complaints alleged Mullin had "unpermitted sexual contact" with a minor in 1993 when he was the dean of students at St. John's Preparatory School.

"Mullin adamantly denies the allegation," the abbey said at the time. "St. John's Abbey has full confidence in Mullin's denial and, by filing the complaint in court — at Mullin's request — is seeking to restore his good name."

The case was dismissed in June 2017.

A biography listed on the College of St. Benedict/St. John's University (CSB/SJU) website says Mullin became a monk in 1992 and was ordained as a priest in 2007. He studied elementary education and religion at St. John's and later taught and served as a principal at the elementary level. He then was a teacher and dean at the prep school, served as department chair for the CSB/SJU education department and was vice president for student development at St. John's University. Mullin also served as a chaplain at the VA Medical Center in St. Cloud.

The abbey, which had about 400 monks at its height in the early 1960s, has just shy of 100 now. The monks gathered Monday to start the process of electing a new abbot, which involved monks making nominations of possible candidates, privately discussing each nominee's qualifications and then voting via private ballot.

After Mullin was chosen, the abbey church rang its bells to proclaim a leader had been selected, and the monastic community marched into the church with Mullin at the end of the procession.

Bishop Patrick Neary of the Diocese of St. Cloud will lead the blessing of the new abbot at 4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 28, at the Abbey church in Collegeville.