ANOKA, MINN. -- Two Roman Catholic dioceses have admitted partial responsibility for psychological injury suffered by a 24-year-old man who was sexually abused by a priest as a teenager.

In the first U.S. case in which a judge has permitted a victim of sexual abuse to seek punitive damages from the Roman Catholic Church, the man is suing the former priest, Thomas Adamson, and claims the church placed Adamson in positions of power and trust even though it knew he had a history of abusing boys.

John Hoffman, representing the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, told the jury in the trial that the church placed restrictions on Adamson and monitored his behavior but that the actions were ineffective.

He and George Restovich, an attorney for the Diocese of Winona, admitted the church was guilty of negligence and said it will pay damages. But they said the dioceses were innocent of willfully employing an unfit priest.

The case is only the third suit alleging sexual abuse by a priest to come to trial in the nation, said Jeffery Anderson, the victim's attorney. Adamson, 57, has settled four other sexual abuse suits, and one is pending.

One of his alleged victims, who received an out-of-court settlement, was convicted earlier this year of attempted first-degree homicide for traveling to Wisconsin to kill Adamson.