Court files reveal new details behind St. Paul Archdiocese troubles

Star Tribune

By Jean Hopfensperger Star Tribune SEPTEMBER 29, 2016

The Ramsey County attorney’s office released the final mountain of documents from its criminal investigation into the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis this week, providing new details of allegations of sexual advances by former Archbishop John Nienstedt and of the church’s mishandling of convicted sex offender Curtis Wehmeyer.

Nienstedt’s interactions with seminarians drew concern from young men and clergy leaders more recently than had been revealed before, including during his seven-year tenure in St. Paul ending in 2015, according to files. That’s in addition to the previously reported allegations of sexual improprieties with adult men made by former colleagues in the Detroit area dating to the 1970s.

Documents show that former Archbishop Harry Flynn — like Nienstedt — gave special attention to Wehmeyer, a former priest, including overriding a 1996 recommendation by the archdiocese’s vocation office that Wehmeyer not be admitted into seminary.

By 2013, and after multiple episodes of sexual misconduct, Wehmeyer was convicted of sexually abusing two boys in Wehmeyer’s camper when it was parked outside his St. Paul church. He was sentenced to five years in prison.

Documents also indicate that Wehmeyer used that camper to visit the lake home of Joseph Kueppers, the archdiocese’s chancellor for civil affairs, where Wehmeyer would spend some weekends from about 2007 to 2012. According to a deacon with a lake home nearby, Wehmeyer sometimes performed Sunday masses at the lake home. Kueppers, a former parishioner of Wehmeyer, was noted for “not disclosing information” by attorneys investigating Nienstedt.

Nienstedt, who had a social relationship with Wehmeyer, has denied any sexual relationship with him. In files from the St. Paul police investigation also made available this week, Wehmeyer says the same, that he had no sexual relationship with the archbishop. He blames much of his troubles on his drinking.

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