Reporting Esme Murphy
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — St. Paul police are not saying how many priests they might be looking at, but as they made a highly unusual appeal for victims of abuse to come forward, Commander Mary Nash said their could be one victim, and there could also be 100 victims.
St. Paul police are asking anyone who has been molested by a priest in the city of St. Paul to please contact them.
“I would like to say to those victims, whether you have come forward with your abuse, or whether you are working to cross that threshold of disclosure, you are stronger than you know,” she said.
She repeatedly declined to comment on what has sparked the obvious broadening of the investigation.
The original St. Paul police investigation into the Rev. Jon Shelley concluded that the images on his computer, while pornographic, were not child porn. But the report also states that one of Shelley’s computers had been destroyed.
The police report said Shelley’s discs were kept in a vault at the archdiocese headquarters in St. Paul.
A memo from whistleblower Jennifer Haselberger said the vault also contained 48 restricted personnel files on other priests.
In a separate case, a lawsuit was filed this week against St. Paul priest Michael Keating by a woman who said Keating molested her repeatedly when she was 13 to 15. A police report said Keating spoke of being involved with another 14-year-old girl.
Keating has been a professor at the University of St. Thomas since 2006 and lived on campus until this weekend. He is now on voluntarily leave from the school.
Nash said she grew up Catholic and that is a difficult investigation.
“You still have to keep some faith that at least for us we can at least help find the truth,” she said.
Victims are being asked to call St. Paul police at 651-291-1111.
Father Shelleys attorney said there was no child porn and there are no victims in that case.
Keating’s attorney did not return WCCO’s phone call.
The archdiocese released the following statement.
“We join in solidarity with the St. Paul Police Department, and all civil authorities, in continuing to encourage anyone who suspects abuse of a minor or vulnerable adult within Church ministry—or any setting including the home or school—to first contact law enforcement. Any act of abuse against a minor or vulnerable adult is reprehensible and morally repugnant and we will not tolerate it.”
The statement ended with, “We are deeply sorry for any harm that has come from clergy misconduct. Eliminating any form of abuse is the highest priority for the Archdiocese. Our record is not perfect, but we have made great progress, and we are determined to do whatever is necessary to eliminate this problem.”