Friday, June 05, 2015

Minneapolis Archdiocese Charged Criminally For Inadequate Responses To Priest Abuse

In a 44-page criminal complaint (full text) filed today, the state of Minnesota charged the Catholic Diocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis with contributing to the need for protection or services and contributing to the delinquency or status as a juvenile offender in connection with three separate victims of clergy sexual abuse. A civil complaint was also filed by the state.  As summarized by the Minneapolis Star Tribune:
The charges stem from the archdiocese’s oversight of former priest Curtis Wehmeyer, who is now serving a prison term for abusing two boys while he was pastor of Blessed Sacrament Church in St. Paul.
At a press conference, Ramsey County Attorney John Choi said:
Today we are alleging a disturbing institutional and systemic pattern of behavior committed by the highest levels of leadership of the archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis over the course of decades.
By filing criminal charges and taking civil action, we are holding the archdiocese accountable for its failure to responsibly and meaningfully respond to numerous and repeated reports of troubling conduct by Curtis Wehmeyer.
The New York Times also reported on the filing of the six misdemeanor charges, each of which carries a maximum fine of $3000. By filing charges only against the Archdiocese, and not against individuals, the possibility of imposing the 1 year prison sentence that is also available on each charge disappears.

UPDATE: Here is an audio recording of the news conference in which the County Attorney announced the criminal charges. According to MPR News, he said that the investigation continues, but as of now prosecutors do not have sufficient evidence to charge any individual church officials criminally. [Thanks to Tom Rutledge for the update lead.]