Former Deacon Steps down Amid Abuse Allegations

By David Unze
St. Cloud Times
November 15, 2011

Michael W. Weber has resigned from the board of directors at the Greater Twin Cities United Way in the wake of allegations of sexual misconduct more than 40 years ago.

Weber, a Foley native who lives in Plymouth, was a deacon at the Church of the Holy Spirit in St. Cloud in 1969 and 1970 when the abuse is alleged to have happened. Holy Spirit parishioners were told about the allegations at weekend Masses. A Dec. 4 listening session has been scheduled for parishioners in light of the allegations.

The diocese schedules such listening sessions when it receives a credible allegation against an ordained individual involving a minor or vulnerable adult, and the session is scheduled in parishes where the accused individual served, said Jane Marrin, spokeswoman for the diocese.

"There are at least two (people making allegations against Weber)," Marrin said. "It may be more."

Weber was once associate director and acting executive director of the National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse. He is past director of the Hennepin County Community Services Department and was an assistant commissioner in the Minnesota Department of Human Services.

Weber informed Greater Twin Cities United Way of his decision to resign, effective immediately, from its board of directors, according to a statement released Monday by that organization. He served on the board for 2½ years.

"Mr. Weber made this decision in light of a recent news article, which noted allegations of impropriety about him from 40 years ago. In response, Mr. Weber's photo and biographical information have been removed from Greater Twin Cities United Way's website," the statement read. "None of the allegations involve Greater Twin Cities United Way past or present."

Weber also no longer holds his position as a volunteer mentor in the College of St. Benedict/St. John's University Donald McNeely Center for Entrepreneurship. He was listed as a mentor as recently as Friday, but Weber and the schools reached a mutual decision that his affiliation should end, said Michael Hemmesch, spokesman at St. John's.

Weber had served since 2005. After receiving a letter last week outlining the allegations against Weber, the university and the college contacted Weber and mutually agreed to terminate his relationship with the center.

"Our students' safety is our first priority. Over the weekend, we took the additional step of notifying all of the students in the Entrepreneurship Program and providing them with a direct point of contact to the Provost should they have any concerns or questions," according to a statement released Monday by the university and college. "Neither the University nor the College has received any calls or complaints from students or alumni/ae alleging misconduct by Mr. Weber. We take sexual misconduct very seriously."

No criminal charges have been filed against Weber. Messages left for Weber haven't been returned.

Weber earlier this year stepped down as president and chief executive officer of Volunteers of America-Minnesota, a statewide affiliate of a national organization that provides a variety of family and children's programs, among other things.

Volunteers of America - Minnesota also released a statement Monday.

"We understand that allegations have recently been made about Michael Weber concerning conduct that allegedly occurred more than 40 years ago. None of the alleged conduct involves Volunteers of America-Minnesota past or present," the statement read. "We are concerned about any allegations of this type. We are committed to cooperating with the proper authorities conducting further investigation into these allegations. We will have no further comment at this time."

Weber grew up in Foley and graduated from St. John's University before he spent four to five months as a deacon at the Church of the Holy Spirit, according to a statement made Saturday evening after Mass at the Church of the Holy Spirit in south St. Cloud by the Rev. Thomas Knoblach.

The listening session is scheduled for 4 p.m. Dec. 4 at Holy Spirit, Knoblach said. Holy Spirit parishioners are invited as are other potential victims, Knoblach said.

Among the other honors Weber has received in his career were the 1990 Vincent DeFrancis Award from the American Humane Association and the 1993 Award for Excellence in Public Child Welfare Administration from the National Association of Public Child Welfare Administrators.

Any original material on these pages is copyright 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.