St. Paul priest is charged with abuse

  • Article by: DAVID CHANEN
  • Star Tribune
  • September 21, 2012 - 9:13 PM

During the summer of 2010, the Rev. Curtis Wehmeyer would bring two young brothers to his camper trailer, parked in the lot of the St. Paul church where he presided.

Inside, he showed the boys, then 12 and 14, pornographic movies and provided alcohol and marijuana as he allegedly molested one and exposed himself to the other, authorities said this week. After he was arrested in June in the rectory at the Church of the Blessed Sacrament, Wehmeyer saw the boys' mother and said, "[your son] doesn't lie. I intend to plead guilty and spare your family the embarrassment," according to charges filed Thursday in Ramsey County District Court.

Wehmeyer, 47, who was removed as the Roman Catholic church's pastor in June, faces three counts of criminal sexual conduct.

On Friday, Ramsey County Attorney John Choi was asked whether his office was reviewing other possible cases involving Wehmeyer. Choi replied, "Stay tuned." Also Friday, the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis released a statement saying it "deeply regrets the pain caused by clergy misconduct or by others within the Church, and is offering its support and assistance to all concerned."

Neither Wehmeyer, of Oakdale, nor his attorney could be reached for comment.

According to the charges, on June 21 of this year, one of the boys told their mother that Wehmeyer had molested him in the trailer. She informed the church, and the archdiocese gave the information to St. Paul police.

The archdiocese immediately removed Wehmeyer from his ministerial duties. Since then, he has not practiced any ministry in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, according to Friday's statement. The archdiocese cooperated fully with the ensuing police investigation, and learned only Friday that Wehmeyer had been formally charged, the statement said.

When Wehmeyer was arrested at the church, the complaint says, he apologized to an employee for "the people that he had hurt."

The next day, the younger boy, now 15, was interviewed by police. He said Wehmeyer would expose himself and touch him. The boy's older brother, now 16, also was in the trailer on several occasions.

Wehmeyer told the younger boy that if he told anybody, he would no longer be able to become a priest and the parish would fall apart, the complaint said.

The document also said the brothers were molested during a camping trip near Big Sandy Lake in Aitkin County and that Wehmeyer offered them beer, cigarettes and marijuana. One of the boys shared a bed with Wehmeyer, but the boy put up "a barricade of pillows and blankets" to separate him from Wehmeyer. He said he woke up to find the bedding removed and Wehmeyer's arms on his chest. In a later interview, he said he woke up and felt the defendant's hands touching his genitals.

Wehmeyer was charged with one count of felony second-degree criminal sexual conduct and two counts of gross misdemeanor fifth-degree criminal sexual conduct. When arrested, he asked for a lawyer and didn't give police a statement. His next court appearance is set for Oct. 10.

He was ordained in 2001 and served as associate priest at St. Joseph parish in West St. Paul from 2001 to 2006. From 2006 to 2009, he served at Church of the Blessed Sacrament, which merged with St. Thomas the Apostle on July 1, 2009.

The archdiocese said anyone with knowledge of misconduct in a parish should call the authorities and also is encouraged to notify the archdiocese at 651-291-4497.

Staff writer Rose French contributed to this report. David Chanen • 612-673-4465

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