A retired police officer with expertise in Internet sex crimes against kids, a law professor and a sex-abuse psychologist are among six lay people who had their first meeting Wednesday as members of a new task force looking into clergy sexual misconduct and how the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has responded.
The task force was named following allegations last week that archdiocesan leaders mishandled situations involving a priest who confessed to sexually assaulting two boys and is in prison as well as another priest who may have had child pornography on his computer.
One of six members on the Ministerial Standards Task Force is Brian Short, a Minneapolis business executive and federal courts mediator who vowed that the task force would not “whitewash” its findings, which will be presented to Archbishop John Nienstedt and made public.
Short said he believes that the group will operate with full independence. “If people are looking for a whitewash, I know one member of the task force who will be handing in his resignation,” Short said.
The Rev. Reginald Whitt, a Dominican priest from the University of St. Thomas School of Law, was appointed by Nienstedt as a vicar for ministerial standards. He’s assuming responsibility for all issues related to clergy sexual misconduct and also the appointment of the task force. There’s no time frame for the work to be done, though there’s a sense of urgency and meetings will be frequent, Short said.
The members will scrutinize documents, interview anyone they want inside and outside of the diocese “and try to come up with a program that is comprehensive,” he said.
Trust in the church is critical, and the integrity of those on the task force suggests that trust will be earned, Short said.