A judge ordered the deposition over the objection of attorneys for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. Nienstedt testified under oath for four hours April 2 about the way church officials have responded to allegations of sexual abuse by priests. The archdiocese was strongly criticized last week by a church-appointed panel investigating those issues.
“We’re releasing these now because we believe it is important for the public to be able to read the archbishops’s testimony,” said attorney Mike Finnegan. “We believe all information on child sex abuse in the archdiocese should be made public.”
The archdiocese released a statement immediately after the deposition, stating that Nienstedt had explained that children’s safety was the archdiocese’s highest priority. The statement said he “expressed regret for mistakes that were made in the past,” and that he would follow recommendations by the panel reviewing how the archdiocese handled abuse complaints.
However, attorneys for the alleged abuse victim said Nienstedt had ended his testimony abruptly and “heatedly” when asked to give police investigators more church files about credibly accused priests.
The archdiocese responded that Nienstedt ended the deposition because he had reached his time limit.
Nienstedt has led the archdiocese since 2008. In the past year, the local church has been rocked by new allegations of child sexual abuse by priests, including the Rev. Curtis Wehmeyer, who was sentenced to five years in prison last year for abusing two brothers in a trailer parked outside Blessed Sacrament Church in St. Paul.
Nienstedt’s deposition came in response to a lawsuit by “John Doe 1” last May, who claimed he was abused by Rev. Thomas Adamson even after the priest’s sexual misconduct was known to the church.
Adamson, who had worked in the Winona diocese, was transferred to the Twin Cities archdiocese, where he allegedly abused a young man at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church in St. Paul Park.