2 Bishops Resign in Minnesota Over Sexual Abuse Scandal, Vatican ex-envoy Wesolowski faces child sex abuse trial
June 16, 2015 Comments Off on 2 Bishops Resign in Minnesota Over Sexual Abuse Scandal, Vatican ex-envoy Wesolowski faces child sex abuse trial
2 Bishops Resign in Minnesota Over Sexual Abuse Scandal
By MITCH SMITH and LAURIE GOODSTEIN JUNE 15, 2015
CHICAGO — Two bishops in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis resigned their posts Monday, the second time this spring that American church leaders have stepped aside after complaints over their handling of sexual abuse claims involving priests.
In Minnesota, Archbishop John C. Nienstedt and an auxiliary bishop, Lee A. Piché, announced their departures less than two weeks after prosecutors in St. Paul accused the archdiocese of willfully ignoring warning signs of a pedophile priest. Their resignations followed the April exit of Bishop Robert W. Finn from the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph in Missouri, who had been convicted of a misdemeanor for failing to report a priest who took pornographic pictures of girls….
John J. Choi, the prosecutor in Ramsey County, Minn., said the resignations would not affect his office’s criminal and civil cases against the archdiocese, which accused church leaders of failing to intervene against a priest despite repeated complaints of misconduct. That priest, Curtis Wehmeyer, has since been defrocked and imprisoned on sexual abuse charges involving boys in his parish.
“While today’s resignation will be viewed as a positive development by many in our community, the pending criminal action and civil petition and the ongoing investigation will continue,” Mr. Choi said in a statement. “As we have said, the goals of our actions are to hold the Archdiocese accountable, seek justice for the victims and our community, and to take appropriate steps to ensure that what we have alleged and intend to prove about the past conduct of church officials will never be repeated.”….
The Minnesota and Missouri church leaders are hardly the first bishops to resign under scrutiny or accusations that they failed abuse victims. Since the papacy of John Paul II — now St. John Paul — began in 1978, 16 other bishops have resigned or been forced from office under a cloud of accusations that they mishandled abuse cases, according to research by BishopAccountability.org, an advocacy group in Waltham, Mass. Archbishop Nienstedt is the 17th, by that group’s count.
Archbishop Nienstedt had become one of the most embattled figures in the American Catholic hierarchy, under fire in the courts, in the pews and on newspaper editorial pages. He had refused to resign about a year ago after coming under sharp criticism from his own former chancellor for canonical affairs, Jennifer M. Haselberger, who charged that the church used a chaotic system of record keeping that helped conceal the backgrounds of guilty priests who remained on assignment….
Catholic Archdiocese in Minnesota Charged Over Sex Abuse by Priest
By MITCH SMITH JUNE 5, 2015
CHICAGO — Prosecutors in Minnesota filed criminal charges on Friday against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, accusing church leaders of mishandling repeated complaints of sexual misconduct against a priest and failing to follow through on pledges to protect children and root out pedophile clergymen.
The charges and accompanying civil petition, announced by the Ramsey County prosecutor, John J. Choi, stem from accusations by three male victims who say that from 2008 to 2010, when they were under age, a local priest, Curtis Wehmeyer, gave them alcohol and drugs before sexually assaulting them.
The criminal case amounts to a sweeping condemnation of the archdiocese and how its leaders have handled the abuse allegations — even after reforms were put in place by church leaders to increase accountability — and the charges are among the most severe actions taken by American authorities against a Catholic diocese….
Mr. Wehmeyer, 50, who was dismissed as a priest in March, was sentenced to five years in a Minnesota prison in 2013 for criminal sexual conduct and possession of child pornography. He also has been charged with sex crimes in Wisconsin.
The six criminal charges filed Friday, misdemeanors with a maximum fine of $3,000 each, accused the archdiocese of failing to protect children. Mr. Choi also filed a civil petition against the archdiocese that he said was intended to provide legal remedies to prevent similar inaction from happening again.
The 44-page criminal complaint states that concerns about Mr. Wehmeyer date to the 1990s, when he was in seminary and supervisors suggested that his past sexual promiscuity and alcohol abuse made him a poor candidate for the priesthood….
The charging documents also say that archdiocese officials knew that Mr. Wehmeyer used a boys’ bathroom at a parish elementary school instead of the staff restroom; tried to give an elementary-age boy a tour of the rectory in violation of policy; and took camping trips with boys where some of the sexual abuse was said to have occurred.
The archdiocese placed Mr. Wehmeyer in a monitoring program for priests facing complaints of abuse or other problems, but prosecutors said in court documents that the supervision and follow-through was “lax or nonexistent.”….
Vatican ex-envoy Wesolowski faces child sex abuse trial
15 June 2015
The Vatican is to put its former envoy to the Dominican Republic, Jozef Wesolowski, on trial on child sex abuse and child pornography charges.
Pope Francis has also accepted the resignations of a US archbishop and his deputy, accused in Minnesota of having ignored a priest’s child abuse.
Jozef Wesolowski is accused of sexually abusing children in the Dominican Republic from 2008 to 2013. He is under house arrest in the Vatican.
The trial is to begin on 11 July.
Wesolowski, 66, is also charged with possession of child pornography, dating from his return to Rome in 2013….
Wesolowski, who is originally from Poland, was recalled from the Dominican Republic in 2013, after allegations surfaced accusing him of abusing Dominican boys.
He had spent five years in the Caribbean country as the papal envoy.
He was defrocked in June last year after he was found guilty by a Church tribunal – he is the highest-ranking church official to be defrocked for such abuse.
He will now be tried by a Vatican criminal court….