The Nov. 15 verdict by a Ramsey County jury finding Father Christopher Wenthe guilty of third degree sexual misconduct as a result of a sexual relationship with a young adult woman “represents the conclusion of a serious boundary violation that should never have been committed,” the archdiocese said in a statement issued the same day.
Father Wenthe had been charged with two counts of criminal sexual conduct in the third degree. The charge relates to sexual conduct “which occurs during a period in which a member of the clergy is meeting with the person to provide religious or spiritual advice, aid or comfort in private.”
Father Wenthe was found guilty of having sex with the woman in 2003 while he was serving as associate priest of Nativity of Our Lord in St. Paul and while he was providing her spiritual counsel and advice.
The priest was acquitted of a second count that alleged that he continued having sex with the woman from November 2003 to February 2005, while she was still receiving religious or spiritual help.
He is free on bond while waiting for sentencing Dec. 14.
“The archdiocese regrets the pain and suffering that the woman has suffered and continues to offer her assistance and care,” the statement said.
It also said that after the woman reported the sexual relationship to the archdiocese in 2005, Father Wenthe admitted the relationship but denied criminal wrongdoing. He was returned to active ministry with certain restrictions and conditions after he underwent psychological assessment and treatment and a review by the Clergy Review Board, according to the statement.
He was removed from active ministry after the woman took the case to the police in 2010, according to the archdiocese.
Category: Local News