Priest Will Not Be Charged with Child Porn
By Barbara Dorris
Survivors Network of Those Abused by
January 29, 2014
We are saddened by the fact that at this time the
Washington County Attorney has decided not to pursue charges
against Fr. Jonathan Shelley. We hope someday he will and that
in the meantime other police and prosecutors will continue
investigating Fr. Shelley.
We suspect that evidence was withheld or destroyed.
Now more than ever it is important for anyone with
knowledge of Fr. Shelley’s crimes or misdeeds to contact law
enforcement. Violent child sexual images - or as it is commonly
called, child porn - cause great harm to the kids involved.
We hope that Archbishop John Nienstedt will do now
what he should have done long ago - visit all the parishes where
Fr. Shelley worked and beg anyone who was harmed by him to come
forward, call police, and begin to heal.
We stand by what we said last October:
“There is no record of anyone contacting police.
(Archbishop Harry) Flynn allowed (Fr. Jonathan) Shelley to
return to ministry.” Those two damning sentences are from the
latest disturbing Minnesota Public Radio report outlining the
secretive, irresponsible and likely illegal way Twin Cities
Catholic officials hid thousands of pornographic pictures on Fr.
Jonathan Shelley’s computer.
Fr. Shelley’s computers should have been given to law
enforcement at the first hint of sexual impropriety. But MPR
reports that in 2004 “a private investigator that found that
many of the depictions" on Fr. Shelley’s computer “could be
considered borderline illegal, because of the youthful-looking
male image.” That too should have prompted Catholic officials to
give the computers to police.
But church officials again kept near-certain crimes
secret. The computers were destroyed. And now, Fr. Shelley
continues to walk free, a decade later.
According to MPR, in a memo, dated Jan. 27, 2013, Fr.
Kevin McDonough, who headed the church's child-safety program,
told (Archbishop) Nienstedt that at least four of the images
were "’quite likely of minors.’”
What arrogance to assume that because you know church
theology and music and history you’re somehow an unbiased
authority on child pornography.
Our duty as citizens is to call the police when we
suspect crimes may have happened. It’s not to hide evidence,
split hairs, parse words, and write secret memos and letters to
colleagues if we suspect crimes may have happened.
The fact that “the archdiocese declined to make
(Archbishop Harry) Flynn, (Archbishop John) Nienstedt and (Fr.
Kevin) McDonough available for interviews speaks volumes about
how desperate they are to avoid facing tough questions about
their inexcusable actions.”
The Twin Cities archdiocesan hierarchy seems rotten to
the core and determined to ignore secular laws and handle
possible crimes “in house.” Now more than ever, it’s critical
that law enforcement step up, along with every current and
former Catholic employee who saw, suspected or suffered clergy
sexual misdeeds, crimes or cover ups.