St. Louis archbishop deposed in Minnesota case
- Article by: AMY FORLITI
- Associated Press
- June 9, 2014 - 5:25 PM
ST. PAUL, Minn. — The head of the Archdiocese of St. Louis said several times under oath that he couldn't recall how he handled allegations of sexual abuse when he was investigating such claims against priests in Minnesota — but he remembers that he never reported any accusations to police, according to a deposition made public Monday.
Archbishop Robert Carlson made the statements last month in a sworn deposition taken as part of lawsuit against the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, where Carlson served for years and had a role in handling claims against accused priests from 1979 through 1994.
During the interview, Carlson said he never went to Minnesota authorities about cases involving priests — even after one priest said he probably had committed a crime.
When asked if he knew in the 1970s or 1980s that it was a crime for an adult to engage in sex with a child, he said: "I'm not sure whether I knew it was a crime or not. I understand today it's a crime."
The St. Louis archdiocese released a statement saying Carlson has given testimony about this priest several times, years ago, and "while not being able to recall his knowledge of the law exactly as it was many decades ago, the Archbishop did make it clear that he knows child sex abuse is a crime today."
"The question does not address the Archbishop's moral stance on the sin of pedophilia, which has been that it is a most egregious offense," the St. Louis archdiocese said.
The St. Paul-Minneapolis archdiocese had no comment.
Carlson, who is not a party to the lawsuit, was deposed as part of a case that alleges the St. Paul-Minneapolis archdiocese created a public nuisance by keeping the names of accused priests secret. The lawsuit was filed in 2013 by a man who claims he was sexually abused the former Rev. Thomas Adamson between 1976 and 1977, when Adamson was at a church in St. Paul Park.
Throughout the three-and-a-half hour deposition, Carlson repeatedly said he didn't remember details about his investigations.
Jeff Anderson, an attorney for the plaintiff, said Carlson claimed he didn't remember on 193 occasions. Anderson said he is disturbed by the "purposeful deceit."
Anderson referred to several church documents to shed light on how cases were handled. In a July 9, 1984, memo to then-Archbishop John Roach, Carlson wrote that Adamson had admitted he abused a boy from 1978 through 1982, and that Adamson said the activity "would probably be first-degree criminal sexual contact."
"It is my recommendation, given the seriousness of our exposure, that the Archdiocese posture itself in such a way that any publicity will be minimized," Carlson wrote.
When asked about that recommendation, Carlson said: "Obviously, based on some 25 years later, I would do it differently."
A home telephone number could not be located for Adamson.
Anderson asked Carlson whether he was worried about a scandal at the time.
Carlson said he assumed there was concern about a scandal but he didn't remember fully. He said he doesn't believe there was a cover-up, but at the time, church officials and counselors believed pedophilia could be cured.
"I think if you go back in history, I think the whole culture did not know what they were dealing with. I think therapists didn't. I don't think we fully understood," Carlson said. "I don't think we realized it was the serious problem it is."
Carlson left Minnesota in 1994 and served as bishop in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and Saginaw, Michigan, before becoming St. Louis archbishop in 2009.
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