Archdiocese says she knew abused boy’s visits with priest violated rules.
The mother of two boys sexually abused by the Rev. Curtis Wehmeyer contends that the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis is blaming her for not protecting her sons from the priest and has reneged on promises to help her family deal with the trauma.
“The burden this has placed on my family and the devastation … is insurmountable,” the mother said in an interview last week with the Star Tribune. “It really cut deep when they blamed it on me.”
Wehmeyer, the former pastor of Blessed Sacrament Parish in St. Paul, is serving a five-year prison term for abusing two of her sons, and the family has sued the archdiocese for civil damages.
In a brief response filed Feb. 7, the archdiocese said that the mother was aware of the time one of her boys was spending with Wehmeyer.
“Plaintiff’s mother worked at Blessed Sacrament Parish in St. Paul during the period when plaintiff was abused by Curtis Wehmeyer,” the filing said. “She was aware of the time [he] spent with Mr. Wehmeyer, and she knew that such interaction was contrary to established Archdiocese policy.”
“That’s absurd,” she said.
Spokesman Jim Accurso said the court document referred to by the mother is an early filing, written before any legal fact-finding in the case.
The mother, whose name is being withheld from this story to protect the identities of her children, was a full-time employee at Blessed Sacrament when Wehmeyer abused her boys starting when they were 9 and 11 years old.
‘Bloodcurdling to me’
The mother said part of her job at Blessed Sacrament was to administer the parish’s Protection of Children and Youth Initiative, including doing background checks on volunteers. She said she allowed her boys to go camping with Wehmeyer and hang out with him because she hoped at least one of them would take an interest in becoming a priest.
Wehmeyer was “geeky” and didn’t have a lot of friends, she said, but she thought his interests in the outdoors and ownership of a dog would appeal to her sons.
The mother acknowledged that she received a phone call in 2009 from then-Vicar General Paul Sirba. He had learned that one of her boys had gone camping alone with Wehmeyer, and he told her to make sure another adult was present on any future trips.
But she said the gist of his message was that supervision was needed to protect priests from the appearance of scandal.
The family’s lawsuit cites a May 2011 memo by former vicar general Kevin McDonough recommending against disclosing 2004 and 2009 police reports describing Wehmeyer’s approaches to young men.
“It’s bloodcurdling to me they had the opportunity to stop this man dead in his tracks before he harmed any of my children,” the mother said.
‘Those visions come back’
The abuse of the boys came to light after they began to sexually abuse their younger siblings, she said. She has flashbacks of the younger siblings, each under the age of 6, pleading with her to take them on errands instead of leaving them behind with their older brothers.
“When I’m quiet … those visions come back,” she said.