Louis Catholic Church Defends Archbishop Carlson
By Shula Neuman
St. Louis Public Radio
|Cathedral Basilica of St.
|Protestors with the
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests react on June 11
to a deposition given by Archbishop Robert Carlson in a child
sexual abuse case in Minneapolis.
The St. Louis Archdiocese is blasting the notion that
Archbishop Robert Carlson did not know child sexual abuse was a
crime during his 24 years of service in Minnesota, saying
statements he made to that effect in a deposition were taken out
On Monday, attorneys suing the Archdiocese of St. Paul and
Minneapolis in a child sexual assault case there posted excerpts
from Carlson's five-hour deposition. In one clip, attorney Jeff Anderson asks
Carlson, "Archbishop, you knew it was a crime for an adult
to engage in sex with a kid?"
"I'm not sure whether I knew it was a crime or
not," Carlson replies. "I understand today it is a
The statement sparked a wide-ranging, national uproar. But
Charles Goldberg, a Denver-based attorney who attended the
deposition on Carlson's behalf, says a close reading of the
deposition's full transcript makes it clear that Carlson
believed he was being asked about whether he knew it was a crime
to not report child sexual abuse to the police.
The archbishop, Goldberg says, has been among the leaders
in speaking out against the child sexual abuse scandal that has
been rocking the Catholic church for more than a decade.
"This is a man as early as 1980 recognizing that this
deviant behavior has no place in the Catholic church,"
Goldberg said in a hastily arranged conference call on
Wednesday. "And that has been his stance from that day to
this and probably before then."
Goldberg's argument was repeated by the Archdiocese in a
statement released earlier on Wednesday.
"During a press conference held on June 9, 2014,
Plaintiff’s lawyer strategically took Archbishop
Carlson’s response to a question out of context and
suggested that the Archbishop did not know that it was a
criminal offense for an adult to molest a child. Nothing could
be further from the truth. ...
When the Archbishop said 'I’m not sure whether
I knew it was a crime or not,' he was simply
referring to the fact that he did not know the year that
clergy became mandatory reporters of suspected child
The full transcript of the deposition can be found on the website of
the Archdiocese of the St. Paul-Minneapolis.
David Clohessy, the national director for the Survivors
Network of those Abused by Priests, said his group was less
disturbed by what Carlson said in the deposition than what it
was revealed he didn't do.
"We're worried less about when he knew that child
sexual abuse was a crime," Clohessy said. "The fact
that he not once in almost a quarter-century called the police
even when predators admitted molesting kids, we find that very,
In the deposition, Carlson says he told at least one
family to report their concerns about a particular priest to the
police, but never says if he called police to report his own
The archbishop is not a party to the Minneapolis
civil case for which he was deposed, but he is named in a civil
lawsuit in St. Louis against Joseph Ross, the former priest at
St. Cronan and the first priest ever defrocked in the
Archdiocese. The plaintiff in that case is arguing that the
Archdiocese of St. Louis engaged in a pattern of covering up
abuse claims. It's set for trial in July.