The Charges : What the Archdiocese Faces

Pioneer Press
June 15, 2015

Auxillary Bishop Andrew Cozzens of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis speaks about the resignations of Archbishop John Nienstadt and Auxiliary Bishop Lee Piche during a news conference outside the Archdiocese's chancery building in St. Paul on Monday, June 15, 2015. (Pioneer Press: Scott Takushi)

The turmoil at the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis comes on the heels of criminal charges and a civil petition filed June 5 by Ramsey County Attorney John Choi against the organization.

Here is what the archdiocese faces:

-- Six gross misdemeanor criminal charges -- three charges of contributing to the need for protection of minors and three charges of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

-- Three claims in civil court based on the same allegations.

The criminal charges and civil petition stem from church leaders' alleged failure to protect children from Curtis Wehmeyer, a former priest who remained in the ministry for years despite signs he was a risk. Wehmeyer was convicted of molesting two boys and faces prosecution in Wisconsin for molesting a third.

The criminal charges are against the archdiocese as a corporation and not against individuals. They would not bring jail time, and the archdiocese could face a maximum of $18,000 in fines if convicted. The investigation continues.

The civil petition seeks "legal remedies to prevent the archdiocese from allowing this behavior to ever happen again," Choi said. Prosecutors are asking the court to require the archdiocese to correct and eliminate conditions that allowed the cover-up and order any other remedies the court deems appropriate.

Auxiliary Bishop Andrew Cozzens has said the archdiocese will continue to cooperate with the Ramsey County attorney's office.

"We all share the same goal: To provide safe environments for all children in our churches and in our communities," he said.

Hearings are scheduled for July 17.

--Staff and wire reports








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