The priest who served a Catholic church in Fridley and was investigated by Edina police for possibly possessing child pornography will not be charged, according to a statement posted on the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis’ website.
However, the archdiocese said, it is continuing its investigation to determine the priest’s fate. He is currently on “required leave from ministry” and has since resigned from the Church of St. William in Fridley.
Edina police Sgt. Kevin Rofidal said authorities couldn’t prove that the pornographic images were of individuals under age 18.
According to a statement from the Hennepin County attorney’s office, proving the age can be “very difficult.”
“It can be offensive, it can be disturbing, but it is only criminal if we can show, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the person was under 18. In this case, we could not do that,” the statement said.
Because the priest has not been arrested or charged, the Star Tribune is not naming him.
Neighbors at his Edina apartment complex called police four times in the past few years about what they said were the sounds of a child crying and “in distress” coming from his apartment. The most recent report was Feb. 8.
Police investigated each time but did not find a child in the priest’s apartment.
But in an interview with Edina police in February, the priest admitted that he had pornography on his computer, according to the search warrant request. The search sought evidence of possession or distribution of child pornography.
As part of the investigation, Edina police met with archdiocese staff members working on child safety issues on Feb. 6, the search warrant request said.
At that time, police were shown the archdiocese’s file on the priest, according to the search warrant request. There they learned about previous complaints about the priest’s “concerning behaviors,” which included giving bear hugs to grade-school-age boys and encouraging older altar boys to step down so younger ones could serve.