Church insider: St. Paul Archdiocese hid claims of child sex abuse by priests.
July 16, 2014
ST. PAUL, Minn. - In an insider's view of how the St.Paul Archdiocese handled priest sex abuse cases, a whistleblower documents claims of cover-ups, lies and the turning of a blind eye towards the safety of children.
In a scathing 107-page affidavit filed by Twin Cities attorney Jeff Anderson in the civil suit by a man known as Doe 1, canon lawyer Jennifer M. Haselberger, the former chancellor for canonical affairs at the St. Paul Archdiocese, describes a "cavalier attitude toward the safety of other people's children."
Haselberger was employed by the Archdiocese from 2008 to 2013. Her affidavit was filed Tuesday in Ramsey County. It describes the Archdiocese as being incredibly "reckless and irresponsible."
In the case of Fr. Curtis Wehmeyer, Haselberger writes that in 2009 she notified the Archbishop about what she calls Wehmeyer's "history of acting out sexually." Despite the warning Archbishop John Nienstedt appointed Wehmeyer pastor at Blessed Sacrament in St. Paul where he later sexually abused two boys. Wehmeyer pled guilty in 2012.
Feeling she was "out of options" with the church, Haselberger on two occasions called a friend who worked for the Ramsey County attorney's office. Her affidavit reads like a road map for investigators, including footnotes where she describes a small light blue file about problem priests. She accuses church leadership of consistently "failing to investigate" allegations of reported sexual abuse and "not taking necessary precautions."
In response to the revelations, Frank Muers with SNAP, the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, tells KARE 11, "You would expect from your church a little higher standards. We're not seeing that. We're seeing standards you wouldn't expect from the lowest denominator."
"What we're looking for here is a little sanity and we call on the Ramsey County Attorney to finally step up and do something," Muers added.
The Archdiocese responded to Haselberger's affidavit with a statement that says in part, "Her recollections are not always shared by others within the Archdiocese. However, Ms. Haselberger's experience highlights the importance of ongoing constructive dialogue and reform aimed at ensuring the safety of children."
Haselberger writes for her the final straw came last December, when in an interview with reporters Archbishop Nienstedt claimed he was as "surprised as anyone else" when the priest sex story broke. Haselberger calls that claim a "lie to the faithful."
In the affidavit, Haselberger writes she believes Archbishop Nienstedt should resign from office. The Archdiocese tells KARE 11 that the Archbishop is out of town on his annual vacation and is unavailable to respond himself.