Minn. Officials Debate When To Clear Crime Slates
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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis on Monday released the names of nine more priests it said were “credibly accused” of sexually abusing minors.
Attorneys and advocates for victims immediately challenged the archdiocese to disclose the names of all priests accused of misconduct, not just those deemed likely to be guilty.
The archdiocese said the new disclosure resulted from a review of church files by an outside consulting firm and posted the names on its website alongside the names of nearly three dozen other priests first posted in December.
All but one of the new cases occurred 25 to 50 years ago, the archdiocese statement said. All nine priests have been permanently removed from ministry, the most recent in 2007, and at least three of the men are now dead, it said.
“We made a public commitment to prudent and ongoing disclosure of substantiated claims,” archdiocese spokesman Jim Accurso said. “Today’s disclosure is part of keeping that promise.”
The review is part of the archdiocese’s response to pressure that began last fall when a church whistleblower, a former canon lawyer, went public with allegations that leaders mishandled allegations of clergy sexual misconduct. Archbishop John Nienstedt created a task force to investigate issues of clergy sexual abuse and hired the outside firm — Kinsale Management — to review its priest files.
Jeffrey Anderson, an attorney who has sued the archdiocese on behalf of victims of clergy sexual misconduct, dismissed Monday’s release. He said five of the nine priests were long known to plaintiffs’ attorneys and should have been made public earlier.
“When we see this disclosure it underscores just how infirm and deficient is the archdiocese and archbishop’s ability to make a full and honest disclosure of offenders,” Anderson said.
He said it also showed the importance of a Ramsey County judge’s refusal Sunday to stay his order that the archdiocese turn over the names of all priests accused of child sexual abuse since 2004. The archdiocese had argued such a release would damage it and its priests. John Van de North also rejected the archdiocese’s appeal of his order that Nienstedt and two other priests testify under oath.
Anderson said he expected to receive the archdiocese’s list of accused priests under seal on Tuesday, the deadline Van de North set for the archdiocese to produce the names.
“We’ll be working rigorously to look at the names and make a motion to the court to unseal the names that we know to be dangerous to public safety and should be disclosed,” he said.
Accurso said the archdiocese will turn over names even as it appeals Van de North’s stay.
“While we must place justice for victims of heinous crimes as our top priority, we must also defend those who have been unjustly accused,” Accurso said.
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