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Officials to decide on Minn. church abuse charges

January 29, 2014
Associated Press

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Ramsey County authorities were expected to announce Wednesday whether charges will be filed over how the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis handled the case of a priest who was later convicted of sexually abusing two children.

The Ramsey County Attorney's Office and St. Paul police planned to release details of their investigation at a morning news conference. They said they would discuss how and when the case of the Rev. Curtis Wehmeyer came to their attention.

The Wehmeyer case is among several that have come to light in recent months that have raised questions about the archdiocese's handling of problem priests over the years.

Wehmeyer, the former pastor of The Church of the Blessed Sacrament on St. Paul's East Side, was charged in September 2012 and pleaded guilty that same year to criminal sexual conduct involving two brothers. Wehmeyer also pleaded guilty to having child pornography and is now serving a five-year prison sentence.

The charges said Wehmeyer molested one boy and exposed himself to the other in the summer of 2010. Wehmeyer was removed from his parish post in June 2012 after church authorities learned of the allegations.

But internal church documents show archdiocese leaders knew well before then that Wehmeyer had issues with sexual misconduct. In 2008, a church employee who was reviewing priest files warned church officials that Wehmeyer's file contained documents noting he had a sexual addiction and had violated the archdiocese's code of conduct several times. Among other things, Wehmeyer had solicited young men for sex in a bookstore and had cruised a park for anonymous sex.

But despite that, he was allowed to remain in ministry and was promoted to pastor in 2009.

In a Sept. 27, 2013, letter, Archbishop John Nienstedt said he didn't suspect Wehmeyer was a risk to children when he named him pastor and it was clear in hindsight that Wehmeyer shouldn't have been in active ministry. He apologized for not handling the matter more aggressively.

A spokesman for the archdiocese declined comment in advance of the Ramsey County news conference.

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