Decision on seeking charges in St. Paul clergy abuse probe to be revealed today

  • Article by: NICOLE NORFLEET , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 29, 2014 - 10:23 AM

A decision will be announced Wednesday on whether to pursue charges in connection with how information was handled within the archdiocese concerning allegations against a priest.

Rev. Curtis Wehmeyer

A decision will be announced Wednesday by authorities in St. Paul on whether to pursue charges in connection with how information was handled within the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis concerning allegations against a fired St. Paul clergy member who is now in prison for sexually abusing two boys.

The Ramsey County attorney’s office and police have scheduled a news conference for 10 a.m. in St. Paul to make the announcement.

As recently as 2012, police were troubled by how Roman Catholic Church leaders handled a child’s explicit sexual abuse allegation against the Rev. Curtis Wehmeyer, who had been promoted by Archbishop John Nienstedt despite earlier reports of sexual misconduct.

Wehmeyer, 49, was fired as pastor of a St. Paul church in a way that allowed him to hide evidence in the sex case, police Cmdr. Mary Nash complained last fall. Wehmeyer now is in St. Cloud prison for sexually abusing two boys while he was pastor of Blessed Sacrament in St. Paul and for possession of child pornography.

Authorities also said in a statement that they will “provide public information about the police investigation involving the circumstances of how and when information came to be known” in connection with Wehmeyer.

Since last fall, the archdiocese has faced mounting criticism because of its handling of allegations of clergy abuse. In December, the archdiocese released a list of 30 priests who have been credibly accused of sexually abusing minors.

Later that month, Nienstedt was accused of inappropriately touching a boy during a photo session after a confirmation ceremony. Nienstedt, who denies the allegations, removed himself immediately from public ministry while the case is investigated.

Also last month, police and representatives from the archdiocese met to discuss the investigation after Police Chief Thomas Smith publicly criticized church officials for not allowing police to conduct interviews. The archdiocese said in a statement that the meeting was “productive” and “amicable.”

 

Star Tribune staff writer Paul Walsh contributed to this report. Nicole Norfleet • 612-673-4495 Twitter: @stribnorfleet

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