Minnesota Priest Charged With Sexual Abuse

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A Roman Catholic priest was charged Thursday with third-degree criminal sexual conduct for having sex with a woman he was counseling, the Ramsey County attorney’s office said in a statement.

A criminal complaint said Christopher Thomas Wenthe, 46, of Delano, had sex with the woman multiple times from 2003 to 2005 while he was a priest at Nativity Catholic Church in St. Paul. Wenthe met the woman while she was taking a course for converting to Catholicism and became her confessor, the complaint said. Encounters between the two took place in his apartment in the church rectory and sometimes after Mass in the sacristy, the room where priests change out of their ceremonial garments, it said.

Wenthe couldn’t be reached in jail for comment Thursday, and it wasn’t clear whether he had a lawyer.

The woman, who had been sexually abused as a child, went to police last April, when she was 29, but the complaint said a roommate of hers told the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis about the relationship in 2005. The woman told an unnamed high-ranking archdiocese official herself in a 2006 letter, it said.

The Associated Press generally does not name people who may be victims of sex crimes.

Wenthe acknowledged having regular sex with the woman when police interviewed him last August, the complaint said, and told police the archdiocese “confronted him about his inappropriate relationship with her” around December of 2004, about the time he underwent treatment for a “generalized anxiety disorder.” He completed treatment and was assigned to a parish in Stillwater, then later to a church in Delano, the complaint said.

In a statement Thursday, the archdiocese said after the matter was reported to the archdiocese in September 2005, the woman met with representatives of the archdiocese and was offered counseling and therapy. She also was informed that she could report her contact with Wenthe to police but chose not to do so, the archdiocese said.

The archdiocese said it sent Wenthe for a psychological assessment and treatment. In August 2006, the Clergy Review Board recommended that Wenthe be allowed to return to active ministry with certain conditions and restrictions, the archdiocese said. There have been no complaints or incidents over the past five years of his ministry, the statement said.

The archdiocese said it “sincerely regrets any pain or suffering that the woman may have endured and continues to offer her our assistance and care.”

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

  • Pat

    How can there be a sentencing date, when there hasn’t been a conviction??

    • Barry Barney

      Right ON TOM LANE couldn’t agree more, it’s the womans fault.

    • Hauenstein


    • Victim Du Jour

      Mental Health Junkies like to play dumb, To be victims, it’s like munchausen syndrome.

      It’s from watching too much Oprah and Phil Donahue back in the 90’s.

  • linda

    How is this a legal matter? Consenual between two adults. Now since the priest was advising this woman it was certainly in bad taste or a religious matter to be taken up with the Catholic system. People usually want money anyway & don’t see why tax money is being spent making this a criminal case.

    • Del B.

      Because he is a priest counseling a troubled woman… A priest that took advantage of her being vulnerable for his own gain… Of course its wrong…

      • Steve

        This is to Del B.
        How do you know he took advantage of her? When they met at counseling maybe they actually had feelings for eavh other, ever think of that? Also i went to that Delano church and while there he was my priest. He was a good priest and a nice guy, don’t deam this man as a “bad man” because of one thing in his life, take him as whole. He is a good man.

  • Del B.

    He is like a counselor… it is unethical to have relations with your clients… it can be looked at as taking advantage of their emotional state of mind… Some can even be looked at as a vulnerable adult… Which means if he had sexual relations with a person who is a vulnerable adult can be charged with a sexual conduct charge… I have a feeling we will hear more of the details later…

  • Donna

    I know Father Wenthe. He has gone for treatment. Why is the woman just coming out now with the charge? He is a very good priest!!!!!!

    • Momma

      A really good priest! Are you kidding me? What is it with priests and the unending excuses people make for them. Seriously!!!!!
      While I don’t agree that it’s a criminal issue because she’s an adult, I am SO sick of the excuses!!!!! Only the catholic religion can have so many bad apples and so many excuse makers. Let me guess, now the Pope will move him somewhere else.

      • Sarah

        No the church DOES NOT cover for those who make mistakes. If it was consensual then there is absolutely no reason to make this a legal matter if he isnt a professional. People like to think that we act as though priests and other religious are perfect people we worship, which is TOTALLY wrong. He made a mistake a long time ago, and thats all that matters at this point.

      • Tom


        Very true

      • Steve

        Very untrue. The church doesn’t cover it up. That is blatently true by the fact that you read about it.

      • k

        SO BLATANTLY TRUE are the decades upon decades the Catholic church DID COVER SEXUAL ABUSE UP. Just because we are reading about abuse now, does not mean the church hasn’t covered it up in the past!

        Explain to me how it could possibly be consensual for a young woman seeking professional help that had been sexually abused as a child? You have to be of “sane mind” for it to be consensual…clearly and understandably ANYONE who has been sexually abused and having such problems as a result that they seek out professional help is not of clear mind to give consent. As sad as it is, whether he’s a priest or not really is the point. He was a professional and he abused his power.

  • Ryan

    Lets not ‘convict’ this man before he has his day in court…that’s what the criminal justice system is for.

    • Tom


      I don’t how you came too conclusion that the Catholic Church does not cover their mistakes. Have you seen how far back some these cases againest the Catholic Church goes? And it really doesn’t matter that the sex was consensual or not one the parties took the vow of celibacy and he knows what that ment when he joined the priest hood. And yes Sarah most Catholics think they are PERFECT! In a unrelated issue sort of, but i think it is a good question anyway. For those of you who are condemning the woman in this case and siding with the priest, are you also taking the priests side as in involves what some of them have done to young boys in the past and or present?

  • sue

    Father Wenthe is our parish priest at Delano Catholic Community and a faith-filled Man of God. We cherish him and support him completely. How sad the assault on this spiritual man. WE ARE PRAYING FOR YOU FATHER WENTHE and also for your accusers. How easy to jump on the band wagon of believing the “bad priest story”. Do people understand what an easy target the priest is every time they meet privately with a troubled person? I personally know of female attractions/crushes/stalkings directed unwantedly toward priests because they are such understanding and good people.

    To our dear and good priest firends. Do not be discouraged. We love you.


      Sounds like Sue is pretty friendly with Father Wenthe if you know what I mean.

      • Tom


        I don’t think Sue is the only one!

      • Steve

        Sounds like you need to shut up, i konw the priest too, i went the the church my latter highschool years and knew him somewhat. He was a good man.

    • Karen

      I know Fr. Wenthe from his time in my parish in Stillwater. I agree whole heartedly that he is a faith-filled man of God. Let those who are without sin cast the first stone. We are all weak at times, all of us. I support him and pray for him as well as for the woman. This does not change my opinion of him at all, he is one of the finest priests I have ever met.

    • Sean

      Just announced in the Star Tribune that he is the “former” pastor of the Delano Catholic Community. What is puzzling is that the Diocese allowed him to practice before his arrest but immediately dismisses him after the arrest.

      I think the real crime is not Fr. Wenthe but the Church official who chose not to report him to the authorities.

  • linda

    What kind of treatment are you talking about Donna? The kind that tells a priest he shouldn’t have sex with women he’s counseling? If so, how is he a good priest if he needs this kind of counseling? Don’t really want to bash Catholic ideas about their priests, but us of another denomination probably wouldn’t say someone is “assaulting” our pastor/priest. We’d be more inclined to hope he wasn’t mistreating people & would welcome the inquiry. If he’s guilty, he’s not the guy we thought he was. If innocent- we’ll love him even more. STILL DON’T THINK IS A LEGAL ISSUE unless woman is mentally unable to know what was happening to her.

  • BudK

    Catholics and their blind devotion to “priests”, “holy mother church’, dead saints, and all the other RC twisted lies combining Judaism, Paganism, and Christianity into one sick heretical global cult ruled by the traditions of men. And sick men at that.

    • Ryan

      I am praying for you…for the comment you just posted.

    • Karen

      BudK, you have hit the nail on the head. Anyone who does a little research will find out that the Bible says nothing about praying to dead saints, or popes, or confessing sins to a priest, storing the dead bodies of “saints” on display in the Vatcian, etc. Catholics also encourage their members to call their priests “Father” which goes against the teachings of the Bible. When is the Catholic church going to realize that its teachings have been wrong? When are they going to start letting priests marry so this nonsense of pedophiles can be reduced and celibacy can be done away with. If you’re a Catholic you should seek the Lord Jesus Christ the only mediator between the Father and man. You shall have no other gods; this religion breaks the law of God.

      • Sarah

        Praying for you…

      • Karen

        Thanks for the prayers. Please be sure to pray to God/Jesus/Holy Spirit, rather than to priests, popes, or dead saints. Anything else is pure blasphemy.

    • Steve

      Bud, you are just plain stupid. Im a catholic, and i disagree with many things of my church. But i also agree with many things, thats one of the nice thing were taught we have the CHOICE to make for ourselves. We don’t blindly follow anyone.

  • elmo

    It’s illegal to have sex with prisoners, yet looks at the guards. Many have sex with the inmates.
    Guess if the lady turned him on, she found a weak spot. She could have said no, and moved on else ware.

  • Jon

    Even if he had possibly made a mikstake. We all are sinners and by the grace of God forgiven. Whoever has not sinned throw the first stone.

  • Karen

    Sue, I don’t understand your comment at all. It says that Wenthe admitted to having sex with this woman. Isn’t a priest having sex a sin in the Catholic church? If you are a “good” Catholic, then why are you supporting a priest who admitted to having sex? That makes no sense to me. I grew up Catholic and 25 years later have learned the truth about Roman Catholicism. I thank God everyday that I was able to find my way out of it.

  • rosepickle

    OK So Priests arent spose to have sex in the first place so he messed up there. The article stated that they had sex more than once so im guessing it was consensual. Really dont think he forced it cause she woulda ran to the police right away. Honestly Im a little digusted with both parties for having sex in such a Holy Place. I dont know the story behind the story so Im not going to judge. But on the defense of the Priest he is only Human and sex is a very HUMANE thing to do. Every thing happens for a reason, but i think it should be more than just the priest facing these convictions

  • km

    Do you really think a young woman seeking counseling for sexual abuse suffered as a child, has the mental capacity to provide consent? Were you sexually abused as a child? Do you have ANY IDEA what that does to you mentally and emotionally, let alone physically?

    Come on people. It doesn’t matter in the eyes of the law if this man was a priest, a social worker, a counselor or a psychologist. He took advantage of his power.

    I am a Catholic, and I do believe in forgiveness, even for a priest – as they are humans just like us. But I also believe in justice for victims. So let’s wait and see where the facts that will come out sooner or later take us. There could be alot more to this story…it could get worse for the priest or it could get worse for the victim. So no one should be

    • Sexual Abuse 'victim'

      Yes, I was sexually abused as a child by multiple people, and I am very capable of providing consent! I know exactly what I’m doing. Yes, even to those that I’ve sought counseling from, I would never have been able to claim abuse from.

      I was a victim then – NOT NOW!!!

      And she was abused at a VERY early age! It’s not like she was being abused at the time that she was getting counseling from him!!! Unless he forced her -which from all evidence presented, that just wasn’t the case – there was no abuse.

      I wish that everyone would just quick acting like they’re victims.
      We all have a will and can make decisions on our own.
      Young children, NO. But adults, YES. You’re old enough to know better.

      And in this case, it seems like they were just two people falling in love and making some bad decisions that God should deal with – not the courts.

      She made the decision to keep seeing him. She wanted the relationship and the sex just as much as he did. She’s probably just as much to blame for the sin as he was – who knows, maybe even more.

  • Jane Francis

    Tom thinks everyone is a sex monger, cuz Tom is not getting sex, except from himself.

  • Lonnie

    My wife and kids were baptised Catholic. We used to go to church when the kids were little, but no more. We quit going because of the attitude of the church covering up and protecting pedophile priests. We can not support an organization that protected hundreds, possibly thousands of pedophiles.

    • Sue

      And what does this story have to do with pedophiles? Nothing, Nada, zip, zero! Yes, the church is f%$^8d-up!

      • Karen

        The problems of priests and pedophlia has been closely tied for many, many years.

  • Sean

    Sins are forgiven and potential crimes are investigated. Sounds like a situation where he acknowledged it when it happened, sought counseling and was allowed to go back into ministry, with restrictions, by his superiors. If the courts want to pursue it, and it looks like they do, then justice will also take its course. It seems that the people of the Delano Church Community will welcome him back.

    As far as the Church, I have raised my family and continue to be an active member of a local parish. Am I disappointed with the acitons of clergy in our faith and others, yes. Just as I am disappointed with law enforcement officers, politicians, doctors, teachers, coaches, counselors, and others who have broke the law. Do I then discount everyone in those professions. No I don’t.

    I have found that you get what you put into churches, marriages, careers, parenting. If you are not happy with your experience, take a minute to look at your side of the street. What could you have done dfferently?

    • isaac

      very true sean

  • OhNo

    I am so disappointed in Father Wenthe. Legally this was mistake yes.It must be difficult to remain celibate and I can understand a human being having an attraction for another human being. Given the level of training and information priests now receive about appropriate interactions with parishoners, converts etc, there is NO WAY that he did not know that acting on this was wrong. Even if she was a consenting adult who was NOT under his counsel. If she was his future bride to be if he decided to leave the church someday….the fact that he admitted to having sex in the sacristy is DISGUSTING. Those parishoners have every right to feel violated themselves. A place that they care for, respect, and pay money to upkeep (And pay money for him to live in) was used in that manner? Sick. That, above all else, shows total lack of judgment, respect, and care. He was selfish and callous. Yes he is human. Yes he is a man of faith who made a mistake. I can understand and forgive him, but I don’t have to say it is ok that it happened. He owes a lot of people an apology. And I am sure all of these parishes are just thrilled to have their good names associated with a sex scandal now.

  • Victim Du Jour

    This is among many reasons the State of Minnesota is facing a budget crisis.

  • pope=poop

    yeah…uh huh…betcha she instigated it,touching ,then unzippin’ and showing this preist what he’d been missing …how could he resist?

  • Mike

    Sounds to me, like Chris fell in love with this woman and made the mistake of having sex with her out of wedlock. I just can’t see why this is a criminal issue. Sure, the Catholic church may have issue with the fact that he had sex with her when he was becoming a priest, but what does the state of MN have to do with that???

    Chris was my closest co-worker and one of my best friends for many years. He literally is one of the nicest, kindest, warmest, god-fearing people that I have ever known. And yes, he is human, a sinner. Just like all the rest of us, he makes mistakes.

    I’m Christian, definitely not Catholic. I believe the whole deal with forcing priests to stay single is just asking for problems. If he could have just married the girl that he was in love with when he decided to become a priest, none of this would have happened! The bible never says that priests must remain single, that was the Catholic church that imposed that on their own, which has caused so many problems over the years! Just let them get married!!! When marriage is forbidden, then you end up causing people to sin!

    But, coming back to the main issue here. Why the heck is our tax payer money paying for incarcerating a guy that had sex with a single adult woman that he was in love with?

  • Lonnie

    I believe the legal issues was that he was in a “position of authority” and therefore that could be the basis for criminal charges.

  • Karen

    Mike, I agree with most of your comments, especially about the issue of priests and marriage. You’re right when you say that this is not Biblical. It is something that Catholics added to their doctrine and as far as I am concerned, it should have never been done. When you start to deviate away from what the Bible teaches (as the Catholics have done) this is one of the results, I think.

    Lonnie is correct. This priest was in a position of authority. That is why criminal charges might be appropriate.

  • http://www.thereligiouspost.com/2011/10/05/the-minnesota-catholic-conference-fears-bisexuals/ The Minnesota Catholic Conference Fears Bisexuals | The Religious Post

    […] In February 2011, a Roman Catholic priest in St. Paul, Minnesota, was charged with third-degree criminal sexual conduct after the priest had sex with a woman he consoled.  The sexual encounters occurred in the church rectory and after Mass in the sacristy. […]

  • Moipsmckinley

    you must read tote coach for promotion code for more

blog comments powered by Disqus
Thursday Night Football

Listen Live