By Jean Hopfensperger Star Tribune OCTOBER 29, 2015
The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis made its first appearance in Ramsey County District Court Thursday in a clergy sex abuse case spearheaded by the Ramsey County Attorney that is being watched nationally.
County Attorney John Choi criminally charged the archdiocese with “failing to protect children” last summer, citing the church’s oversight of the troubled former priest Curtis Wehmeyer. Wehmeyer was convicted of sexually abusing two sons of a parishioner in 2010, in a camper trailer parked outside his Blessed Sacrament Church in St. Paul.
It was the first time a U.S. archdiocese had been charged with such an offense, and just the second time a U.S. archdiocese as an institution has been criminally indicted on a charge of clergy abuse in its ranks, legal scholars say.
Clergy abuse cases historically have been directed at individual priests.
Ramsey County Chief Judge Teresa Warner presided over the brief hearing. She said she would hear both the criminal case — and the accompanying civil case — on the same schedule.
She set the next court date for Nov. 3.
At the time he announced the charges in June, Choi said, “The charges place responsibility for the abuse of those children not just on Wehmeyer, but on the archdiocese as well. He said the charges reflect a “disturbing institutional and systemic pattern of behavior, committed by the highest levels of [archdiocese] leadership.”
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