Minneapolis, Mendota Priests Take Leave after "Inappropriate Conduct" Revealed
By Raya Zimmerman
December 29, 2013
|Here are some of the photos of those priests and monks listed as suspected of sexually abusing children. Above: Thomas Adamson (Courtesy of Jeff Anderson)|
Two priests from Roman Catholic churches in Minneapolis and Mendota are taking leaves of absence after a review of files revealed past inappropriate conduct with minors.
The priests were identified in a statement Sunday by the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis as the Rev. Joseph Gallatin of the Church of St. Peter in Mendota and the Rev. Mark Wehmann of St. Boniface Catholic Church in Minneapolis. A consulting firm that has been reviewing diocesan files identified the incidents, the statement said.
Gallatin, pastor at the Church of St. Peter since July 2008, was found to have had one incident of "inappropriate conduct with a minor" several years ago that involved a "boundary violation" but no crime, the consulting firm concluded.
Wehmann, who has served as a pastor at St. Boniface since July 2013, also was accused of several incidents of inappropriate conduct with minors that involved "boundary violations." Law enforcement had been informed about "most of these in the past," the statement said; no criminal charges were filed. The archdiocese recently informed law enforcement about the remaining incidents. Until recently, Wehmann was also a part-time chaplain at the University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview, in Minneapolis.
Archdiocese spokesman Jim Accurso defined a "boundary violation" as "inappropriate behavior that does not constitute either criminal activity or sexual abuse."
Neither Gallatin nor Wehmann could be reached for comment Monday.
Debbie Mack of Fridley said six generations of her family have been members of St. Boniface, and her son was scheduled to be an altar server on Sunday.
Her mother had heard Wehmann's announcement about his leave during Mass on Saturday, and told Mack; Mack decided to keep her son home on Sunday.
At the end of the Sunday Mass, Wehmann admitted to the inappropriate conduct, Mack said.
"It's very upsetting that the archdiocese did not inform us of these past allegations," she said Monday. Without that information, she could not make a knowledgeable choice about allowing her son to be an altar boy, Mack said.
"They took my right as a parent away to make that decision based on his best interest," she said.
Since this fall, the archdiocese has faced harsh criticism for failing to alert the public of clergy who sexually abused children and for allegedly covering up cases. On Dec. 5, the archdiocese released a list of 34 priests "credibly accused" of sexually abusing children in previous decades. Los Angeles-based Kinsale Management Consulting has been reviewing all clergy files since mid-November.
Accurso said in the released statement that the two priests' situations are not related.
"If the archdiocese learns of additional credible claims that are substantiated, whether from the review of the clergy files or otherwise, additional announcements will be made and the disclosures will be updated on our website," he said.
Both men will remain pastors but refrain from public ministry until a final review is complete, the archdiocese said.
Another case under investigation is that of Archbishop John Nienstedt. The archdiocese announced Dec. 17 that he was accused days earlier of "inappropriate touching" of a boy on the buttocks in 2009.
Although Nienstedt has strongly denied the allegation, which was brought to police by a mandated reporter within the church, he has stepped aside from his public ministry.
Emily Gurnon contributed to this report. Raya Zimmerman can be reached at 651-228-5524.