Archbishop gives deposition, says safety of children is top priority

| April 4, 2014 | 0 Comments

In an April 2 deposition given in a Ramsey County court case, Archbishop John Nienstedt responded to questions about sexual abuse committed by clergy and how the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has handled the issue during his tenure.

The archbishop “repeatedly stated that the safety of children is the archdiocese’s highest priority,” according to an April 2 statement from the archdiocese.

The deposition was conducted by attorneys for a plaintiff known as “John Doe 1.” The plaintiff alleges that a former priest of the Diocese of Winona, Thomas Adamson, who had assignments in the archdiocese, sexually abused him in 1976 or 1977 when he was a minor.

Archbishop Nienstedt, however, was not asked any questions about Doe 1 or Adamson, the archdiocese said, although he did respond to all questions posed to him during the four-hour time period as prescribed by the court.

During the deposition, he expressed regret for mistakes made in the past regarding how the archdiocese responded to allegations of clergy sexual abuse.

The archbishop also highlighted safeguards implemented since 2002, when the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops adopted the “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People,” including safe environment training and criminal background checks for clergy, employees and those volunteering with children in the Church.

During the deposition, Archbishop Nienstedt noted that, in the past 10 years, there have been substantiated allegations made against two men formerly in ministry as priests in the archdiocese: Curtis Wehmeyer and Francisco Montero.

In its statement, the archdiocese said it cooperated with investigators in both cases. Both men were removed from public ministry after the archdiocese became aware of the sexual abuse allegations against them. Montero’s bishop in Ecuador was informed about the allegations in 2007. The archbishop said he would contact the bishop in Ecuador “to express again grave concern” if Montero should presently be in ministry in Ecuador, the archdiocese said.

The deposition came two days after the archdiocese provided clergy file documents as part of the Doe 1 lawsuit. This release was the first of several that will occur in the coming weeks and pertained to four men who were previously disclosed on the archdiocesan website in December and February with substantiated claims of sexual abuse. The archdiocese said it is making “every reasonable effort” to meet the file-release schedule established by the court.

The archdiocese also noted that, beginning, last week, it informed nearly 50 law enforcement agencies that it was going to provide several priest files to Doe 1’s attorney, Jeff Anderson, and offered the police the opportunity to review those files.

“This approach is consistent with our goal of prudent and ongoing disclosure. We continue to cooperate proactively with the police,” it said.

Tags: ,

Category: Local News