Documents detail sex, harassment complaints against Nienstedt

Minnesota Public Radio

Laura Yuen Jul 29, 2016

A Twin Cities priest’s summer trip with John Nienstedt was about to get excruciatingly uncomfortable.

The priest had joined the then-bishop of New Ulm, Minn., on a visit to Nienstedt’s second home, not far from Lake Huron in Michigan. It was July 2004. At the time, the 37-year-old man considered Nienstedt, 20 years his senior, a close platonic friend.

One night, after the two men attended a private event near Detroit, the priest offered to drive the roughly 60 miles home. Nienstedt had drunk too much, he figured.

In the car, the priest would later recount to investigators, Nienstedt spoke affectionately and placed his hand on the priest’s neck. The bishop then began to massage it, according to the priest.

“I felt extremely awkward and did not know what to do,” he said, according to a document released by Ramsey County last week. The priest considered the gesture an unwelcome sexual advance.

Court document: Concerns from a diocesan priest

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