U.S. Supreme Court rejects local priest’s appeal

| December 8, 2015 | 0 Comments

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected Dec. 7 an appeal of a sexual misconduct conviction of Father Christopher Wenthe, a priest of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

Father Wenthe was initially convicted in 2011 in Ramsey County Court of third-degree criminal sexual conduct for an inappropriate sexual relationship with a woman for whom he was providing spiritual counsel. The incident occurred while he was an associate priest of Nativity of Our Lord in St. Paul in 2003.

The state Court of Appeals overturned the trial court verdict in April 2014, in part because it deemed the trial judge had not offered clear instruction to the jury. The Minnesota Supreme Court reinstated the criminal charge in June.

It is a felony in Minnesota for counselors or members of the clergy to have a sexual relationship with someone whom they are spiritually advising.

Father Wenthe was ordained in 2003 and was assigned to Nativity. Prior to 2010, he also ministered at St. Michael, Pine Island; St. Paul, Zumbrota; and St. Mary and St. Michael in Stillwater.

As The Catholic Spirit previously reported, Tim O’Malley, archdiocesan director of ministerial standards and safe environment, said in a statement June 24 that Father Wenthe would remain on leave from active ministry pending an internal review.

“In accordance with our normal protocols, the internal review process begins only after completion of any criminal investigation and judicial process so as to not interfere with either,” he said.

Tags: , , ,

Category: Local News