Reports Surface Showing Archdiocese in St. Paul, Minnesota Knew about Abusive Priest’s Behavior for Over a Decade.

Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) reported on Monday September 23, 2013 that the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis knew about Rev. Curtis Wehmeyer’s illicit “sexual compulstions” for over a decade before finally removing Wehmeyer last year for sexually abusing children.

MPR cited numerous sources within the Archdiocese, including canon lawyer Jennifer Haselberger, and dozens of interviews and reports produced over a two-year period. In particular, Haselberger shared with MPR a memo written in 2011 which suggested that the former vicar general — Rev. Kevin McDonough, the top deputy of the archdiocese — did not want employees at Wehmeyer’s parish to know about his past. In his defense, McDonough told MPR last week that nothing in what officials knew about Wehmeyer’s behavior indicated that he was a threat to children.

McDonough further explained that right before the 2011 memo had been written, the archdiocese sent Wehmeyer to a treatment center in Maryland for clergy with sexual and psychological disorders. Archdiocese officials, according to the 2011 memo, sent him to this treatment center not because they believed him to be a threat to children explicitly, but because “he really was not all that interested in an actual sexual encounter, but rather was obtaining some stimulation by ‘playing with fire.'” This sort of behavior would not “show up in the workplace.” The previous behavior mentioned in the memo consisted of approaching young men for sex at a bookstore in 2004, and cruising a park in 2006 that was a popular place for anonymous sex.

Haselberger also told MPR that, after going to work for the Archdiocese in 2008, she learned that Wehmeyer was under consideration for a promotion. Haselberger, in response, urged the Archdiocese to conduct a thorough background check and place Wehmeyer’s promotion on an indefinite hold. While she awaited a response, Archdiocese officials learned that someone had filed a report saying that Wehmeyer had been acting suspiciously with boys at a campground. Haselberger said that it was these boys who Wehmeyer would later be accused of abusing.

Wehmeyer is currently serving a five-year prison term for sexually abusing two boys and possessing child pornography.

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