Court Won't Seal Deposition of St. Paul Archbishop in Priest Sex Abuse Case

St. Cloud Times
March 27, 2014

A Ramsey County judge reasserted Wednesday that Archbishop John Nienstedt's deposition in a case involving former priest Thomas Adamson not be sealed.

"I had no intention of providing a protection order to the depositions coming up. ... I thought that was pretty clear," District Judge John Van de North told attorneys in court for another priest sexual abuse lawsuit.

The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis had asked Van de North to prevent a plaintiff's attorneys from questioning Nienstedt and his former deputy, the Rev. Kevin McDonough. Van de North denied that request.

In a memorandum filed Monday, the archdiocese asked that those depositions be sealed once completed unless the plaintiff "bring(s) a motion to show good cause as to why such information should be publicly disclosed."

Van de North made it clear that he hoped the issue would not be rehashed Thursday morning, when attorneys in the Adamson case return to court.

Many of the same players were in Van de North's courtroom Wednesday to discuss a separate lawsuit against the archdiocese and the Rev. Curtis Wehmeyer by one of Wehmeyer's young victims.

Wehmeyer, the former pastor of Blessed Sacrament Church in St. Paul, was convicted of sexually abusing two boys and was sentenced last year to five years in prison. One of the boys and his mother sued in January.

The archdiocese asked Van de North to dismiss parts of the lawsuit. The judge said he would issue his decision soon.

The judge turned his attention at the close of the hearing to the case of Doe 1, who sued the archdiocese, the Diocese of Winona and Adamson in May 2013. Doe 1 alleged he was molested by Adamson in 1976 or 1977 when the priest served at St. Thomas Aquinas Church in St. Paul Park.

Van de North wrote to attorneys that he will appoint retired Court of Appeals Judge Robert Schumacher to act as a "special master" in the case to resolve discovery disputes.

Specifically, he will recommend to the court whether certain information -- such as the names of priests accused of sexual abuse since 2004 -- can be disclosed. Those names have been turned over to the court and opposing counsel but remain under seal.

Van de North previously ordered that the archdiocese must turn over by the end of the day Monday documents related to the priests "credibly accused" of child sexual abuse before 2004.

The identities of those priests were released in December.








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