MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/AP) — The top deputy at the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis resigned Thursday amid fresh criticism of how top church officials handled cases of priests accused of sexual abuse.
The archdiocese announced the Rev. Peter Laird’s resignation as vicar general in a statement on its website. His departure follows a report by Minnesota Public Radio News last week documenting how church leaders including Laird knew about a long record of sexual misconduct by the Rev. Curtis Wehmeyer but promoted him anyway. Wehmeyer is now in prison for sexually abusing two boys and possessing child pornography.
Jeff Anderson works with victims of sexual abuse. He says the latest allegations against the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis are not surprising.
A former canon lawyer with the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis says the last straw before she quit was how officials refused to take action when she discovered pornography on CDs in files on a priest up for promotion.
Jennifer Haselberger said some images appeared to show boys as young as 12 engaged in sex. They came from a computer that belonged to Rev. Jonathan Shelley. She said Laird, Archbishop John Nienstedt’s top deputy, ordered her off the case and to turn over the file box. She contacted authorities instead.
Anderson reacted to the news.
“So what we have is a very shocking story now revealed in part. But the sad thing is, it is not surprising to us. It is the kind of thing, they have been doing for decades,” Anderson said.
Anderson told WCCO’s Chad Hartman he is calling for a state and federal investigation into the archdiocese for possible obstruction of justice, and destruction of evidence.