Former Archdiocese Deputy Answers Questions under Oath about Handling of Sex Abuse Cases
By Madeleine Baran St. Paul
Minnesota Public Radio
April 16, 2014
A former top deputy of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis answered questions under oath today about his handling of clergy sexual abuse cases as part of a lawsuit brought by an alleged victim.
The Rev. Kevin McDonough, who served as vicar general for Archbishops John Roach and Harry Flynn and led the archdiocese's child safety programs until September, declined to comment.
Attorney Jeff Anderson, who represents the alleged victim of the Rev. Thomas Adamson, said McDonough answered most questions. However, McDonough refused to respond to questions about his decision not to participate in a St. Paul police investigation into clergy abuse cases, Anderson said. St. Paul Police Chief Thomas Smith has previously said that McDonough has declined to talk to police.
Anderson said he plans to release the deposition to the public after he reviews it.
McDonough coordinated the archdiocese's response to dozens of cases of clergy sexual abuse over the past three decades, including the case of the Rev. Curtis Wehmeyer, a St. Paul priest now in prison for sexually abusing two boys and possessing child pornography. Prior to the discovery of Wehmeyer's abuse, McDonough had advised Archbishop John Nienstedt that parish employees did not need to know about Wehmeyer's sexual addiction. The mother of the victims was a parish employee. She told MPR News in February that she would have never let her children spend time with Wehmeyer if she had known he was a sex addict.
In a statement released Wednesday evening, the archdiocese said McDonough cooperated with the deposition. "When needed, he clarified misstatements and mischaracterizations of the incidents that occurred while he held these positions," it said.
"Father McDonough emphasized that he always had the best interests of children and the vulnerable in mind when doing his work. He also acknowledged that the harm cause by sexual abuse is serious and grave."
The archdiocese and Anderson disagreed over the intended length of the deposition. Ramsey County Judge John Van de North ordered an eight-hour deposition. However, a spokesman for the archdiocese said the judge meant to subtract 90 minutes for lunch and breaks. After six-and-a-half hours, lawyers for the archdiocese ended the deposition, according to Anderson.
Anderson said his final question was, "Do you believe, Father, that I have publicly exaggerated the risks that the archdiocese has posed to children by its practices?"
According to Anderson, McDonough said that Anderson had exaggerated in some cases. Anderson asked McDonough to name the cases and the archdiocese's lawyers instructed McDonough not to answer and said the time allotted for the deposition had expired, he said.