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Priest sought sex in schoolboys’ toilet

Priest sought sex in schoolboys’ toilet

Back in  2013, Minnesota Catholic priest Curtis Wehmeyer, above, was jailed for five years for criminal sexual conduct and possession of child pornography.

But his sentence was not the end to the sorry saga. In a dramatic new turn last Friday, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St Paul and Minneapolis was hit with criminal charges related to Wehmeyer’s conduct.

Charging documents allege that archdiocese officials knew Wehmeyer used a boys’ toilet 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.

Prosecutors also accused church leaders of mishandling repeated complaints of sexual misconduct against the priest and failing to follow through on pledges to protect children and root out paedophile clergymen.

The six criminal charges filed on Friday – misdemeanors with a maximum fine of $3,000 each – accuse the archdiocese of failing to protect children.

Ramsey County prosecutor, John J 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 charges stem from accusations by three male victims who say that from 2008 to 2010, when they were under age, 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.

Choi said on Friday:

Today, we are alleging a disturbing institutional and systemic pattern of behavior committed by the highest levels of leadership of the Archdiocese of St Paul and Minneapolis over the course of decades.

The 44-page criminal complaint states that concerns about Wehmeyer date back to the 1990s, when he was in seminary.

Supervisors suggested that his past sexual promiscuity and alcohol abuse made him a poor candidate for the priesthood and fellow clergy members and parishioners voiced repeated concerns about Wehmeyer after his ordination in 2001.

But the archdiocese allowed him to continue as a priest, and even placed him in charge of his own parish, despite learning about his attempts to pick up young men at bookstores and his encounters with law enforcement at known “cruising” spots where men were known to meet other men for anonymous sexual encounters.

The archdiocese placed Wehmeyer in a monitoring programme for priests facing complaints of abuse or other problems, but prosecutors said in court documents that the supervision and follow-through was, according to Choi:

Lax or nonexistent. The archdiocese’s failures have caused great suffering by the victims and their family and betrayed our entire community.

An auxiliary bishop for the diocese, Andrew Cozzens, said in a statement on Friday:

We deeply regret the abuse that was suffered by the victims of Curtis Wehmeyer and are grieved for all victims of sexual abuse.

He added that the archdiocese would continue to cooperate with prosecutors.

We all share the same goal: to provide safe environments for all children in our churches and in our communities.

Criminal prosecution of an entire Catholic archdiocese is rare, but not entirely unprecedented, in American courts.

An Ohio judge in 2003 convicted the Archdiocese of Cincinnati of failing to report sexually abusive priests in the 1970s and 1980s. The judge fined the archdiocese $10,000, the maximum allowed, after the archbishop entered a no-contest plea.

But the Minnesota allegations are especially serious because the sexual abuse is said to have occurred relatively recently, long after sexual misconduct by priests had been widely reported and after Catholic institutions implemented programs aimed at preventing further abuse.

Hat tip: Mark Palmer

13 responses to “Priest sought sex in schoolboys’ toilet”

  1. Broga says:

    The sexual abuse of minors by priests and the indifference of their superiors isn’t going to stop. The bishops are priests and may, from their own experience and sexual drives, be sympathetic to offending priests.

  2. Rob Andrews says:

    Yeah! They are all cut from the same cloth so to speak. They all started out as young seminarians. A friend of minw was a Franciscan monk, and he said there was a lot of adult homosexually going on; the authorities knew all about it.
    So what else goes on…where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

    CNN news flash:
    The local pedophiles got their windows broken last night. There was stained glass everywhere.

  3. Cali Ron says:

    I can think of no reason why we should expect the church to police itself. It has demonstrated repeatedly, that it’s primary concern is to deny it, hide it and when caught plead ignorance and promise to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Until it does. The RCC is a magnet for young disaffected, pedophiles who see the priesthood as the safest way to fulfill their dark fantasies with little risk of being caught and can expect to be protected from prosecution should their actions become public knowledge.

    I know a cure, disband the RCC, sell off all of it’s assets and use the proceeds to compensate the victims and provide for the needy and downtrodden, just like the pope admonishes. With all the wealth of the church great strides could be made combating poverty and hunger, finally living up to it’s promise to the needy. The most difficult part would be finding meaningful employment for the priests and all those bishops, cardinals, etc. with the fancy robes. It would have to be jobs where they are not around children.

  4. Laura Roberts says:

    It is truly sad that we become so accustomed to these stories that it doesn’t even seem like news anymore. The location may change, but the stories remain the same.

  5. Newspaniard says:

    @Rob Andrews said “…A friend of minw (sic) was a Franciscan monk, and he said there was a lot of adult homosexually going on; the authorities knew all about it.
    So what else goes on…where there’s smoke, there’s fire…”

    I don’t particularly like the way he appears to conflate homosexuality with pedophilia.

  6. Rob Andrews says:

    @Newspaniard:

    I’m gay myself. So i wasn’t putting a moral judgement on it. What I only meant to say was that one activity forbidden by the church, could mean that others are also.
    And to provide proof of WIDESPREAD forbidden activities by quoting someone who was actually there.

  7. Trevor Blake says:

    A terrible yet isolated case. If it was true that sheltering of rapist clergy was systematic, global, organized from the pope down to the parish and well documented over half a century then no one would contribute another dime to the Roman Catholic Church.

    Well… except it is true that sheltering of rapist clergy was systematic, global, organized from the pope down to the parish and well documented over half a century. It takes a non-raping majority to keep those rapists in power. Never shy away from criticizing the “good” Christians.

  8. Broga says:

    There are two layers to the RCC. One is that of the kindly Pope, the robes, the ritual and the claim to be holy. The other is the underbelly of financial corruption, paedophilia, cruel insistence on unnatural behaviour. So may choose only to see the top layer and are prepared to ignore the underbelly as it is too distressing.

    They see what they want to see; they choose what they want to believe.

  9. Dazed says:

    Henry VIII was right … he recognised that the vatican wanted to rule and control England and every other country in which it had a presence. And today what does the rcc do. It bullys and coerces countries to pass laws that suit the rcc and not the interests of its citizens. It seeks to exercise power and influence globally. Time to complete Henry’s idea and get the rcc back in its box. The rcc is a global crime syndicate with the ultimate godfather. Time that we all recognise this fact and demand that our politicians do our bidding to kill off rcc influence.

  10. John the Drunkard says:

    Across public space, there is a terrible reluctance to address the part alcohol plays in sexual crimes. In this case, it is reported that the priest used alcohol to enable him to molest boys. When girls, and young women are groomed for abuse with alcohol, any reporter who dares to mention it is accused of ‘victim blaming.’

    To suggest that young women be wary around alcohol is considered a greater crime than the use of alcohol as a date-rape drug. Accepting a drink from Bill Cosby isn’t really all that different from accepting a pill from him.

  11. Head Teacher says:

    Religion … the ultimate dichotomy … you can either:-

    a) Be totally suckered into a life of submission, shame and fear.

    b) Exploit the credulity of the above for power, influence, financial profit and sexual predation.

    Those in category a) just do not recognise the motivation of those in category b).

  12. Robster says:

    Good to see these self declared ‘moral guardians” keeping up their end of the bargain. Clergy=Crook.