Catholic Defense League: Mpr Is ‘hypocritical,’ Withholding Sex Abuse Details
By James Warden
December 20, 2013
With the church under fire, the league fired back that MPR is delaying the release of information in order to benefit its editorial schedule.
After weeks of cover-up accusations against the Catholic Church, church supporters are now making cover-up allegations of their own ... against the news organization that’s largely responsible for breaking the story on clergy sex abuse.
A Friday statement from the Catholic Defense League of Minnesota said Minnesota Public Radio appeared to be withholding information on clergy sex abuse in order to benefit their editorial schedule.
MPR has played a significant part in driving coverage of the clergy sex abuse scandal. Its coverage included information from a church official who left in frustration after she thought the church didn’t respond adequately to abuse allegations.
The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis had originally won court approval to seal a 2004 list of priests who had been “credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors in the archdiocese.” But the growing uproar convinced the church to reverse course. It released a list of accused priests Dec. 5.
Since that time, reports have continued to trickle out about priests who were left off the list. A Thursday article based on church documents obtained by MPR News told the story of a retired priest who now teaches sex education to troubled teenagers and vulnerable adults in Wright County. The priest had been accused of sexually abusing a 15-year-old girl and 12-year-old altar boy. The allegations about the girl led to a settlement.
Other news organizations have also highlighted priests that the archdiocese left off the list. On Friday, the Star Tribune reported on five priests who have been accused of sexual abuse but were not included on the Dec. 5 list. The information on that story was based on a 2002 archidocese memo.
But the Catholic Defense League—which bills itself as an organization “dedicated to protecting religious and civil rights”—singled out MPR in its Friday statement. Echoing allegations made against the church itself, the league accused MPR of withholding information that the public and law enforcement should have known about earlier.
The full statement is listed below.
Minnesota Catholic Defense League Calls on MPR to Release All Information it has About Abuse Scandal
Are they withholding important information that could protect children to favor their editorial schedule?
(St. Paul, MN) The Minnesota Catholic Defense League called on Minnesota Public Radio to immediately release all pertinent and credible information they have regarding any sexual abuse scandals.
“It has become clear that Minnesota Public Radio is in possession of information that might be relevant in preventing potential child abuse,” said David Strom, spokesman for the League.
“Over the last four months, Minnesota Public Radio has released a steady stream of stories about allegations of priest abuse,” said Strom.
“We find it disturbing and completely hypocritical for MPR to criticize the church for withholding information when, in fact, they appear to be holding back information to benefit their editorial schedule.”
The CDL pointed to a December 19th story involving a former Catholic priest accused of abuse. His name and possible misconduct was previously unknown to the public. CDL officials questioned why MPR waited until yesterday to release this story.
The accused former priest, Harry Walsh, is currently employed by Wright County as a sex education teacher, and has regular contact with vulnerable youth.
MPR’s story is very extensively reported and must have taken significant time to research.
CDL officials questioned whether MPR informed Wright County police of the potential for sex abuse, or even that there was a person with sex abuse allegations working with minors in their county?
The Catholic Defense League also calls on the calls on St. Paul Police to investigate whether MPR is withholding vital information from law enforcement and government officials. The CDL believes information revealed in the December 19th story should have been revealed earlier.
“Minnesota Public Radio should reveal all credible information about accused abusers who may still be in a position to harm people as soon as possible,” said Strom.
The Catholic Defense League in Minnesota was formed in 1976. It is dedicated to protecting religious and civil rights.