Feltman will not be charged criminally
By Frank Stanko
August 09, 2017
|Authorities decided not to charge the Rev. Thomas Feltman with criminal charges for his interaction with youth. Feltman, pastor at St. John the Baptist’s Catholic Church, Wyndmere, and St. Arnold’s Catholic Church, Milnor, has been placed on paid administrative leave from both parishes.|
The State’s Attorney’s Office of Richland County, North Dakota, will not be bringing criminal charges against the Rev. Thomas Feltman, pastor of two Richland County parishes. An investigation by the Richland County Sheriff’s Office was launched regarding concerns over Feltman’s interaction with youth following an incident reported in Wyndmere, North Dakota, in May 2017.
In a Friday, July 28 statement, State’s Attorney Ron McBeth said it was reported that as Feltman would go to hug young women, his hand would allegedly touch the women on the side of their breast or on their behind.
“Although this made the girls feel uncomfortable and this touching was socially inappropriate, there is no evidence the touch was done by Rev. Feltman for sexual reasons, which would be necessary in order to prove an element of a sex offense crime,” McBeth continued. “The State’s Attorney’s Office, by way of its prosecutorial discretion, has declined to charge Feltman with any crime based on that evidence.”
Prior to the investigation, Feltman was pastor at St. John the Baptist’s Catholic Church, Wyndmere and St. Arnold’s Catholic Church, Milnor. He was placed on paid administrative leave from both parishes by the Diocese of Fargo.
“Rev. Feltman will remain on administrative leave until an internal investigation by the Diocese is completed,” said Diocese Director of Communications Paul Braun. Upon completion of the internal review, Bishop John Folda will determine any future ministry assignments that best benefit the parishes, parishioners and Rev. Feltman.”
In May 2017, the News-Monitor reported that until the investigation was competed, Feltman was not only on administrative leave and removed from his duties, he was not currently residing on diocesan property.
“I want to assure everyone that the safety of our children and families is — and will remain – a priority for the Diocese of Fargo,” Bishop Folda said Friday, July 28. “I ask you to keep in your prayers everyone who may be affected by this matter and our Church.”
Calling it a difficult time for the individuals who reported their concerns, for the parishioners of both parishes, and for Rev. Feltman, Braun said the Diocese of Fargo will continue to offer pastoral support for all involved.
Ordained in 2001, Feltman has been a priest with the Diocese of Fargo since that time. He became pastor of St. John the Baptist’s and St. Arnold’s in 2015. In May 2017, Bishop Folda appointed the Rev. Andrew Jasinski to be temporary administrator of the parishes.
Feltman’s lawyer is Bruce Quick of the Vogel Law Firm, Fargo. In a statement also made on Friday, July 28, Quick said Feltman has always denied any “inappropriate touching.”
“When the issue was brought to his attention by a parent, he denied the conduct and promptly self-reported the incident to the church so it could be investigated,” Quick said. “The matter was thoroughly investigated and the prosecutor concluded that there was no ‘probable cause,’ which is a very low standard. The allegations were that this incident occurred in a public setting.”
Feltman, Quick continued, hopes that all involved in this matter may find peace and reconciliation and is very appreciative of the strong support he has received.