Minnesota Archdiocese to Cooperate Amid Charges of Mishandling Abuse Allegations

The archdiocese on June 5 was served with civil and criminal complaints that it failed to protect children from former priest Curtis Wehmeyer, who in 2013 was convicted to five years in prison for criminal sexual conduct and possession of child pornography.

MINNEAPOLIS — The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has pledged cooperation amid charges of mishandling allegations against a former priest convicted of sexual misconduct involving children.

“We deeply regret the abuse that was suffered by the victims of Curtis Wehmeyer and are grieved for all victims of sexual abuse,” Bishop Andrew Cozzens, an auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese, said June 5.

“We all share the same goal: to provide safe environments for all children in our churches and in our communities,” he added.

Bishop Cozzens said the archdiocese will continue to cooperate with the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office.

The archdiocese on Friday was served with civil and criminal complaints that it failed to protect children from former priest Curtis Wehmeyer. The criminal charges total six misdemeanors, with a maximum fine of $3,000 each, according to The New York Times.

In 2013, Wehmeyer was convicted to five years in prison for criminal sexual conduct and possession of child pornography. He was convicted of abusing two boys while he was a pastor at a church in St. Paul, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. He also faces sex crimes charges in Wisconsin.

In March 2015, the archdiocese announced that the Vatican had dismissed Wehmeyer from the clerical state. The former priest is now 50 years old.

Ramsey County prosecutor John Choi said the criminal charges focused on the archdiocese’s handling of “numerous and repeated reports of troubling content” by the former priest.

Choi said Church officials failed to follow their own restrictions and that other reports about the man’s behavior were “ignored, minimized or not shared.”

Choi said archdiocesan officials have been cooperative with his office’s requests.

Former judge Tim O’Malley, director of ministerial standards and safe environment for the archdiocese, stated June 5, “We all share the goal of protecting children. To that end, the archdiocese will continue to work with the St. Paul Police Department and the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office, as well as our private and public sector partners, to accomplish that goal. We share County Attorney Choi’s and Chief [Tom] Smith’s commitment to prevent the kind of harm caused in the Wehmeyer case from ever happening again.”

“As county attorney Choi noted, facts must lead the way. Truth is in the details,” he said. “We join Chief Smith in thanking those who have courageously come forward to help find that truth and, in turn, protect children. We also join the county attorney and the chief in encouraging anyone with information to contact the St. Paul Police Department. The more complete the information, the more likely justice will be served.”

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