Archbishop Nienstedt returns to public ministry

| March 11, 2014

Ramsey County Attorney’s Office says charges will not be filed

The Ramsey County Attorney’s Office announced March 11 that it has declined to file charges against Archbishop John Nienstedt after police conducted an “extensive investigation” following an allegation that the archbishop inappropriately touched a minor during a group photo session after a confirmation ceremony.

Archbishop Nienstedt will now resume all of his public ministry duties, the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis said in a statement.

“I am thankful to the St. Paul Police for their thorough investigation, as well as to the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office for their professional work regarding this matter,” Archbishop Nienstedt said. “I look forward to returning to public ministry during this Lenten season, especially during Holy Week and the great feast of Easter.

“While I look forward to my return to public ministry, I remain committed to the ongoing work needed to provide safe environments for all children and youth,” he added. “I continue to offer my prayers for all victims, their families and their communities, as well as to all who have been harmed by clergy sexual abuse. I once again offer my apology to all who have been affected by these terrible offenses.”

The archbishop had voluntarily stepped aside from all public ministry in December while St. Paul Police investigated an allegation that he inappropriately touched a male minor on the buttocks in 2009 during the post-confirmation photo session. The allegation was brought to the police on Dec. 16, 2013.

In a Dec. 17 letter to the faithful, Archbishop Nienstedt called the allegation “absolutely and entirely false.”

In a memo accompanying the announcement from the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office, Richard Dusterhoft, the office’s criminal division director, said the case was reviewed by an assistant county attorney “with many years of experience prosecuting child sex abuse cases,” who agreed the case should not be charged.

The archdiocese said it continues to urge anyone who has been a victim of sexual abuse in Church ministry, or anyone who knows a victim of such abuse, to call the police or other civil authorities. They also are invited to call the archdiocese’s director of advocacy and victim assistance at (651) 291-4497.

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