The Rev. Curtis Wehmeyer, ex-pastor at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church, admits he molested two boys and possessed child porn.
A Catholic priest surprised Ramsey County prosecutors and his teen victims Thursday by quickly pleading guilty to 20 charges related to criminal sexual conduct and possession of child pornography.
The Rev. Curtis C. Wehmeyer told Ramsey County District Judge Salvador Rosas that he understood he was getting no deal from prosecutors and would be going to prison when sentenced in February.
He was accused of criminal sexual conduct involving two brothers, ages 14 and 12, more than two years ago in a camper parked at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in St. Paul, where he lived and worked as the parish pastor.
Wehmeyer, 48, of Minneapolis, 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.
"He said he would plead, and I'm just glad he kept his word," the boys' mother said outside the courtroom.
She added that she and others were shocked by the plea, which came during what was supposed to be an evidence hearing.
Wehmeyer had said he would plead guilty, the mother said, "to spare the family embarrassment."
The boys, now 15 and 16, were watching in the St. Paul courtroom along with their mother, relatives and friends.
The older boy said afterward that he was glad the priest was going to prison, in part because he would hurt no other kids, and expressed relief that the worst part of the case was over.
Wehmeyer was removed as pastor of Blessed Sacrament in June amid an investigation into child sex assault, shortly after he was arrested at the church rectory on St. Paul's East Side.
During the summer of 2010, Wehmeyer brought the two young brothers to his camper trailer, 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, according to the complaint.
On Thursday, he 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.
Armed with a search warrant, 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, Wehmeyer acknowledged in court Thursday.
Under questioning from prosecutors Kyle Dareff and Margaret Galvin, Wehmeyer also agreed that the pornographic images were of real boys, not cartoons or animations.
Each of the 17 child porn counts is punishable by up to five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000. The earlier charges included not only second-degree criminal sexual conduct but also two counts of gross misdemeanor fifth-degree criminal sexual conduct.
Wehmeyer was ordained in 2001 and served as associate priest at St. Joseph Catholic Church in West St. Paul from 2001 to 2006. Since 2006, he had served at Blessed Sacrament.
Jim Accurso, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, released a statement Thursday saying that the archdiocese deeply regretted "the pain caused by Wehmeyer's misconduct and continues to offer support and assistance to all concerned."
Joy Powell • 651-925-5038