Minnesota supreme court reinstates priest’s sexual misconduct charge

| June 26, 2015 | 0 Comments

The Minnesota Supreme Court reinstated a criminal charge June 24 against Father Christopher Wenthe, convicted in Ramsey County Court in November 2011 for an inappropriate sexual relationship with a woman for whom he was providing spiritual counsel while he was an associate priest of Nativity of Our Lord in St. Paul in 2003.

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.

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 supreme court’s decision found that the trial judge’s omissions did not affect Father Wenthe’s rights to a fair trial.

Father Wenthe, 50, 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.

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.

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