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Appeals Court orders new trial for St. Paul priest

  • Associated Press
  • April 7, 2014 - 6:00 PM

MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Appeals Court is reversing a sexual misconduct conviction and ordering a new trial for a St. Paul priest accused of having sex with a woman seeking spiritual advice.

The Appeals Court says the lower court made several errors during Christopher Wenthe's trial.

Wenthe was convicted in 2011 of third-degree criminal sexual conduct after a woman reported a relationship with the priest that happened years earlier.

The Appeals Court says the trial judge should have told jurors they had to unanimously agree on a single meeting during which the crime occurred. In addition, prosecutors had to prove Wenthe knew the meeting had a religious purpose.

Ramsey County Attorney John Choi calls the decision "a tough one to accept." Wenthe's attorney says the priest is thankful for the court's decision.

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