Priest gets five years in child sex-abuse case

  • Article by: JOY POWELL , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 1, 2013 - 5:47 PM

The Rev. Curtis Wehmeyer, 48, admitted to all 20 counts.

A Catholic priest who pleaded guilty to 20 counts related to child sex abuse and child pornography was sentenced on Friday to five years in prison.

Curtis Wehmeyer, 48, was taken into custody at the Ramsey County Law Enforcement Center in St. Paul after his sentencing Friday afternoon.

The criminal sexual conduct involving two brothers, then ages 14 and 12, more than two years ago in a camper parked at Blessed Sacrament church in St. Paul, where he lived and worked as the parish pastor.

In early November, Wehmeyer admitted to one count of second-degree criminal sexual conduct, punishable by up to 25 years in prison and a possible $35,000 fine, as well as two counts of fifth-degree criminal sexual conduct and 17 counts of possessing child pornography.

"I'm very pleased with the sentence, and I hope that it sends a very strong message to people who are abusing children, especially in positions of power and authority," said Ramsey County Attorney John Choi.

During the summer of 2010, Wehmeyer brought the two young brothers to his camper, parked in the lot of the church, and showed them pornographic movies. He gave them alcohol and marijuana as he molested one and exposed himself to the other.

The priest had quietly admitted to touching one boy's genitals on more than one occasion, masturbating in front of them and possessing pornographic photos and movies showing nude prepubescent boys alone and engaged in sexual acts with each other.

Investigators found the videos and photos on the priest's laptop computer in a closet of the rectory in July. Many of the images had been deleted but were still retrievable from the hard drive, an allegation to which Wehmeyer admitted.

Each of the 17 child porn counts is punishable by up to five years in prison, a fine of up to $5,000 or both.

Wehmeyer also was ordered to provide a DNA sample for registration as a predatory sex offender, and he will be on conditional release for 10 years after prison.

In June, the archdiocese was informed of Wehmeyer's criminal actions and immediately reported it to St. Paul police. The archdiocese cooperated fully with the police investigation, and Wehmeyer was immediately removed from all of his ministerial duties.

Upon pleading guilty, the archdiocese petitioned the Holy See for Wehmeyer's dismissal from the clerical state, which, if accepted, will prohibit him from ever exercising priestly ministry.

Wehmeyer was ordained a priest in 2001, and served as parochial vicar at St. Joseph parish in West St. Paul between 2001 and 2006. He served at Blessed Sacrament parish in St. Paul from 2006 to 2009, and was named pastor on July 1, 2009. Blessed Sacrament merged with St. Thomas the Apostle in 2011, and Wehmeyer remained pastor until he was removed on June 21, 2012.

The archdiocese said in a statement, it "deeply regrets the pain caused by Wehmeyer's actions and continues to offer support and assistance to all concerned."

Anyone having knowledge of misconduct within a parish or school should call the proper authorities and is encouraged to notify the archdiocese at 651-291-4497.

Joy Powell • 651-925-5038

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