MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — For the second time in a week, a videotaped deposition of a top official with the Twin Cities Catholic Archdiocese has been released.
The former No. 2 person in the archdiocese defended the church’s handling of alleged clergy sex abuse.
Father Kevin McDonough was in charge of the church’s own internal investigation for 17 years. In the deposition, he accuses the attorney for the victims of orchestrating a media frenzy over abuse claims.
McDonough’s deposition was a lot more specific — and unlike Archbishop John Nienstedt, who displayed a calm, even tone — McDonough was quick to fire back as he clashed with Attorney Jeff Anderson.
At one point in the deposition, Anderson states, “An interview is questions asked and questions answered and you refused to do that.”
McDonough replies, “Yes, I did.”
Anderson then says, “You refused to do an interview.”
McDonough responds, “Right.”
Early in the deposition, Anderson asks McDonough why he refused to meet with the archdiocese internal review committee.
Anderson asks, “What were you afraid of?”
McDonough replies, “I am not afraid of much. Let me go back to what I said at the beginning. The last several months have been characterized by a media frenzy, a significant amount of it, from my perspective, generated by misstatements of law from your own office.”
While McDonough defended the archdiocese’s handling of abuse cases, he admitted for years priests accused of abuse were allowed to remain in the priesthood.
McDonough testified that he approached his record-keeping with an eye on possible future lawsuits.
“When I produced records, my tendency was to mentally invite Jeff Anderson into the office, presuming that I would be held accountable in the years ahead for my activity,” he said.
He defended his own actions in the case of Father Curtis Wehmeyer, who in 2012 pleaded guilty to molesting two boys at the Church of the Blessed Sacrament in St. Paul. Shortly before Wehmeyer’s arrest, McDonough and another church official went to the church, met with Wehmeyer and took his gun and his computer.
St. Paul Police have publicly criticized McDonough’s actions.
The deposition ended with this exchange.
Anderson asks, “Do you believe that I have exaggerated the risk that has been posed by the practices of the Archdiocese in St. Paul-Minneapolis?”
McDonough replies, “I believe that there is some exaggeration on your part, particularly …”
An attorney for McDonough then says, “I think our time is up.”
Anderson responds, “Can you give me one example?”
The attorney then says again, “Time is up.”
And McDonough replies, “Sorry, think we are done.”
The attorneys for the victims have turned the deposition over to St. Paul Police and, as with Nienstedt’s deposition, they said they will be going back to the court to ask if they can be given more time to question McDonough.
Unlike Nienstedt, Father McDonough was represented at the deposition by a criminal defense attorney. That attorney, Andrew Birrell, did not return our call for comment.
The full transcript of that deposition can be viewed here (.pdf).
A few clips of McDonough’s deposition have also been released.
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