Nienstedt’s top deputy resigned abruptly Thursday in response to an allegation that he covered up evidence of child pornography on a computer owned by a Hugo priest[Fr. Jonathan Shelley].SNAP actually has a nice list of relevant documents to this case.
The accusation came from attorney Jennifer Haselberger, a former high-ranking lay official within the archdiocese. And it followed her earlier accusation that the archdiocese overlooked for nearly a decade the sexual compulsions of another priest — Curtis Wehmeyer of St. Paul — and did not warn parishioners. Wehmeyer is now in prison, convicted of sexually abusing two boys.
Haselberger declined requests for comment last week, but on Saturday she issued a blunt challenge to Nienstedt.
She said in a statement that she resigned as chancellor for canonical affairs in April because church leaders’ refusal to act on her allegations made it “impossible for me to continue in that position given my personal ethics, religious convictions and sense of integrity.’’
Haselberger called for Nienstedt to order a comprehensive external review of the clergy and that he make public the names of all those who have engaged in acts of sexual misconduct or could reasonably be assumed to pose a threat to children.
“Until this occurs, I do not believe that it can be said that the Archdiocese is honoring its promise to protect,’’ Haselberger concluded.
Copies of Hugo priest's alleged porn turned over to police
Haselberger told police she had seen an investigator's report that child porn images were on Shelley's hard drive. But discs turned over to police contained only adult pornography. On Sunday, St. Paul police closed their investigation for lack of evidenceHere's what they did find, which is why police dismissed charges
None of what Ternus saw was child pornography, he said.
In a separate memo, dated Jan. 27, 2013, the Rev. Kevin McDonough, who headed the Church's child-safety program, told Nienstedt that at least four of the images were "quite likely of minors." He found no need to take further action because "the images themselves were not pornographic, but enticements to take a further step to view pornography" and appeared to be pop-up advertisements. "Were Father Shelley to have clicked on such advertisements, he would likely have been caught in a law-enforcement sting," McDonough wrote. [Which is really what it had boiled down to until recently]Nienstedt drafted letter to Vatican about porn on Hugo priest's computer, report says
In another document obtained by a radio reporter, Haselberger discloses her concern, as expressed to Nienstedt, about the Shelley case. In a letter to the archbishop in May 2012, Haselberger said the archdiocese in 2004 asked Shelley to allow church officials to examine two personal computers.St. Paul police reopen Hugo priest child porn investigation
"When he received that request, Father Shelley immediately destroyed one of the computers, and while he initially indicated he would permit an analysis of the third computer, he changed his mind and never provided the archdiocese with access to it," Haselberger wrote. [I've read a bunch, and it's not clear who knew that he had destroyed a computer]
Police have received "several pieces of new information" about the allegations involving porn on a computer hard drive, police spokesman Howie Padilla said Tuesday. "Today we decided it is imperative for us to reopen the investigation," he said. Padilla said he would not elaborate on what was in the files or the source of the information.Nienstedt orders independent review of church handling of clergy sexual abuse
"On Friday, we received information from an individual, not necessarily an individual connected with the archdiocese," Padilla said.
Archbishop John Nienstedt announced Sunday that he's asked a University of St. Thomas law professor and priest to assemble a task force to study how the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis is handling clergy sexual misconduct.And then this comes up too:
A letter sent by the archdiocese to parish priests said addressing the allegations is "the top priority for the archdiocese."
The archdiocese urged priests to announce at mass this weekend that Nienstedt has appointed the Rev. Reginald Whitt, a Dominican priest and University of St. Thomas law professor, to lead the creation of a task force to review all issues related to clergy misconduct. Whitt will appoint a task force of lay people but will not be a member of the group. The letter said the board will make specific recommendations and will release the report to the public.
Mother alleges wider church coverup of clergy sexual misconduct
A day after Duluth Bishop Paul Sirba told parishioners that he is “completely committed” to assisting victims of clergy sexual misconduct, a St. Paul mother accused him of participating in a coverup involving a priest who abused two of her boys.There was some question if he was ever Vicar General, which he was:
“There’s nothing Catholic about it. There’s nothing Christian about it. There’s nothing decent about it,” the mother said Monday in an interview with the Star Tribune.
She was referring in part to a phone call she received from Sirba in 2009, when he was vicar general of the St. Paul-Minneapolis Archdiocese.
She said Sirba called her after learning that one of her boys had gone camping alone with the Rev. Curtis Wehmeyer, who later was convicted of sexually abusing the child and his brother. The mother said Sirba told her to make sure another adult was present on any future trips — but that he said the gist of his message was that supervision was needed to protect priests from the appearance of scandal.
[bad. very bad.]
Here is a list of the recent Vicar Generals of the Archdiocese.
Fr. Kevin McDonough 1991-2008
Father Lee Piche' Apr 2008 to Jun 30, 2009;
Father Paul Sirba July 2009 to December 2009
Father Peter Laird December 2009 to September 2013
Fr. Piche became an Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese on May 27, 2009
Well okay. So at this time Shelley is still innocent and waiting upon further review of this "new evidence." If it is indeed some popup ad that is in question, I just really don't think that qualifies as criminal behavior. On the other hand, if it is true that he destroyed evidence and Laird KNEW that he destroyed it, and possibly withheld that information from police(or maybe there's nothing they could do about it)..... Let's say this, I think we all have this great fear that diocesan politics is very much like politics at the country club. They take care of their own and to hell with any outsiders. Compliance to the Dallas Charter doesn't mean sh** if that's all protecting children means in the country club. The fear is that dioceses are more worried about law suit protection than child protection. With Sirba, this could be exactly the mentality we are afraid of, BUT I think that the media is all too excited to blow this up as well so read every report with a grain of salt.
Just make sure we are compliant and there is an adult along is not enough. Someone's got to be the a-hole and kick a priest to the curb if he presents a serious threat to kids, I don't care if that leave a parish without a priest or if the bishop or vicar general went to school with him and it just isn't nice to pry into things like that. Someone has to get their hands dirty when there's a mess to clean up.
I should add this
Sirba also has recently been in the news for his role as vicar general of the St. Paul-Minneapolis Archdiocese, where he has been criticized for his handling of allegations of sexual abuse by Farther Curtis Wehmeyer and another priest whose computer was found to contain pornography, including apparent depictions of underage children involved in sex acts.Duluth Trib
The bishop stated, in an interview (in the Minneapolis Star Tribune published Tuesday), that he did not knowingly participate in any cover-up and that he reached out to the victims’ mother for the protection of her children.”
And don't forget this:
A total of six court hearings seeking the release of secret lists, involving every diocese in Minnesota, are slated for this fall, with additional actions targeting about a dozen Catholic religious orders in Minnesota, said St. Paul [SNAP] attorney Jeff Anderson, who is leading the effort.
Release of the full tally, which might run to dozens of priests facing credible allegations of abuse, could ignite an entirely new round of accusations and lawsuits at a time when many Catholics thought the worst of the clergy sex abuse tragedy was behind the church.
In the past, the courts have sided with the church on the issue because Minnesota’s statute of limitations gave child sexual abuse victims only until age 24 to take legal action. [Boom, there it is. He's off looking for another cash cow to prosecute dead priests.]
But a state law that took effect in May gives victims older than 24 a three-year window to sue for past abuse. Anyone younger than 24 has unlimited time to take legal action.