Case against Fr. Wagner suspended

No charges to be filed

Fr. Sam Wagner

NEW ULM — An investigation into alleged sexual misconduct by Fr. Sam Wagner, a priest of the Diocese of New Ulm, has resulted in no charges being filed and the case against him suspended.

A statement from the New Ulm Police Department on Friday said the investigation began in January when it received a report that a juvenile female was involved in an “inappropriate relationship” with Wagner.

The completed investigation report, which included interviews with several people and a review of digital evidence, was sent to the Brown County Attorney’s office. The county attorney “is declining to initiate prosecution in this matter,” said the New Ulm Police Department’s press release on Friday.

“At this time due to lack of evidence and the inability to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, the case will be considered suspended until new evidence is discovered.”

“We got the a report, did an investigation and determined there is not enough there at this point to get a conviction, at least beyond a reasonable doubt. It could be looked at again if we get more evidence,” said Brown County Attorney Chuck Hanson.

A statement from the Diocese of New Ulm said it is aware that the investigation has been suspended, and that the diocese had cooperated fully during the investigation.

“The Diocese takes any allegations of clergy misconduct very seriously, regardless of whether they result in charges. Fr. Wagner remains on leave from public ministry pending a final determination of his status by the Clergy Review Board,” the statement said.

“The Diocese asks that all those involved be kept in prayer,” it concluded.

The allegations came from Wagner’s tenure at the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in New Ulm between 2014 and 2016. Wagner was assigned in July, 2016 to serve as parochial vicar in the Divine Mercy Area Faith Community, St. Mary’s, in Sleepy Eye, Japanese Martyrs in Leavenworth, St. Michael in Morgan, and St. Paul in Comfrey, He was placed on leave when the investigation started.

A statement by the Diocese in January announced the investigation, and said it is diocesan policy to remove a member of the clergy from ministry when allegations of misconduct are made, without regard to any determination of credibility of the allegations, allowing all parties to give the investigation their full attention.