Archdiocese adds deputy director to child protection staff

| February 17, 2016 | 0 Comments

The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has tapped another person from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to serve in its Office of Ministerial Standards and Safe Environment.

Janell Rasmussen

Janell Rasmussen

Janell Rasmussen began Feb. 17 to work as deputy director alongside the office’s director, Tim O’Malley, former BCA superintendent.

“This position is our investment in both fulfilling the Ramsey County settlement agreement and setting the stage for long-term change, and embedding the processes that we’re putting in place to make sure that they’re going to last, that they’ll withstand the test of time,” O’Malley said.

In December, the archdiocese reached a settlement with the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office related to a civil petition it filed in June alleging the archdiocese failed to protect children in the case of former priest Curtis Wehmeyer, who pleaded guilty in 2013 to sexually abusing two boys at Blessed Sacrament in St. Paul in 2010.

The 24-page agreement outlines child protection measures the archdiocese has already implemented or has promised to implement, and Ramsey County’s oversight of those measures for three years. Seeing this through will be one of Rasmussen’s responsibilities.

“Janell brings a skill set that we need now,” O’Malley said, citing Rasmussen’s extensive senior leadership working with legislators, attorneys, law enforcement and victim advocates.

Rasmussen, 40, has worked in public safety for the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul — her alma mater — and the BCA, where she served as program administrator and coordinated the state’s AMBER Alert program.

“The archdiocese couldn’t have found a better advocate for ministerial standards and safe environment,” said Patty Wetterling, mother of Jacob Wetterling, whose 1989 abduction remains unsolved. “She is brilliant at providing training, accurate communications and building a very successful program that has led the nation in expansion and creativity. Most of all, you won’t find a more caring individual who is committed to building community safety.”

Robert Hoever, director of special programs for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, called Rasmussen a “passionate advocate” and “innovative in her effort to keep children safer.”

Rasmussen said she is “excited to be a part of the change that’s coming and the work that’s currently being done in the area of child protection.”

“Hearing about the work that everyone [in the archdiocese] is doing to move forward and to build the trust back up was very encouraging, and I think there are a lot of opportunities,” she said.

Rasmussen grew up Catholic attending St. Theresa Church in Mapleton. She lives in Wisconsin with her husband and two children, ages 10 and 12. Both children attended St. Francis Catholic Elementary School, where Rasmussen’s family continues to be involved.

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