January 4-11, 2016 Issue
From CNS, Staff and other sources
The Ramsey County Attorney’s Office in Minnesota announced a landmark civil settlement with the Archdiocese of Saint Paul-Minneapolis related to a civil case that alleged grave breakdowns in the archdiocese’s child protection policies. According to County Attorney John Choi, the primary objective of the settlement is to transform the organizational culture of the archdiocese “into one that is vigilant about ensuring that no child will ever again become the victim of clergy sex abuse.”
“Today’s historic agreement increases oversight and transparency to systemically change how the archdiocese protects children and responds to suspected incidents of child sexual abuse,” said Choi. “It is my expectation that the facts of this case will never be repeated and the protection of children will forever be of paramount importance within this archdiocese.” The “case” referred to by Choi involved Curtis Wehmeyer, a former priest who is now serving a prison term for molesting two boys in 2010.
Civil charges will be stayed for three years while the church puts in place enhanced policies and practices to protect children. The archdiocese would have to submit progress reports to the court every six months, and the civil case would be dropped after three years if the court is satisfied with its progress. An accompanying criminal investigation will continue, the county attorney’s office reported.
Archbishop Bernard Hebda, the archdiocese’s apostolic administrator, described the agreement in a letter to parishioners as “an opportunity for us to do all we can to make sure children are as safe as possible now and into the future.”
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