Thursday, July 21, 2016

Settlement Leads To Dropping of Criminal Charges Against St. Paul Archdiocese

In St. Paul, Minnesota yesterday, a state trial court held a hearing on the progress so far in implementing a settlement agreement that was entered last December in civil charges brought against the Catholic Archdiocese of St. Paul & Minneapolis by the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office.  The suit filed last June alleged failure to protect children from abuse by former priest Curtis Wehmeyer. (See prior posting.) Also last June the County Attorney filed criminal charges against the Diocese.  As reported by AP, at yesterday's civil hearing the parties announced an agreement to also drop the criminal charges.  In exchange, the Archdiocese agreed to extend the civil settlement agreement to 2020. It also admitted wrongdoing and agreed that Archbishop Bernard Hebda will personally participate in at least three more restorative justice sessions with abuse victims.  In a Letter to the Faithful posted on the Archdiocese's website, Archbishop Hebda said in part:
Today, the Ramsey County Attorney dismissed the criminal charges. More importantly, through our Civil Settlement Agreement, [County Attorney] John Choi and I have committed to a course of action that will keep kids as safe as possible. I am grateful that his office will hold us accountable. Over the past year, we worked with Mr. Choi and his team to define how the Archdiocese can best create and maintain safe environments for children in our parishes, schools and communities. Over the past six months, we have demonstrated our commitment to that path. Today, we humbly acknowledge our past failures and look forward to continuing down that path to achieve those vital, common goals that together we all share.