Settlement Possible in Archdiocese Criminal Case
July 20, 2016
Just over a year ago, the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis was criminally charged for failing to protect children from clergy sex abuse. Now, it appears a settlement could be in the works.
According to the Archdiocese, Wednesday morning's hearing will be a progress report on the steps they've taken to keep kids safe from sexual abuse. But there could also be new developments in the criminal charges against them as well.
The Ramsey County Attorney will not say whether a settlement has been reached. But multiple sources tell Fox 9 those talks have been ongoing.
In June 2015, Ramsey County Attorney John Choi filed criminal charges against the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis "to hold it criminally accountable for its failure to protect children."
The six gross misdemeanor charges listed the Archdiocese as a corporation, as Choi said there was insufficient evidence at the time to pursue criminal charges against individuals. Since the charges target the archdiocese as a whole, a conviction would result in a fine, but no jail time.
The charges were connected to three separate victims of sexual abuse by former Catholic priest Curtis Wehmeyer, who at the time was serving a five-year prison sentence for molesting two boys in his parish.
In 2013, Wehmeyer was convicted on 20 felony charges for sexually abusing two minors. He's also charged in Chippewa County, Wisconsin with second-degree sexual assault. Father Wehmeyer was defrocked by Pope Francis.
According to those charges, Wehmeyer asked then Archbishop John Nienstedt a couple times, "Are you aware of my past? Are you aware of my record?"
Prosecutors say Nienstedt brushed it off, and said, "I don't have to look into that stuff."
Wehmeyer is now in prison, after he went on to sexually abuse two boys.
Shortly after charges against the Archdiocese were filed, Nienstedt resigned as Archbishop of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.
These charges concern not only the actions of Nienstedt, but also former Vicar General Kevin McDonough.