MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The investigation into allegations that Archbishop John Nienstedt engaged in sexually inappropriate conduct with adult members of the clergy has apparently entered a new phase.
WCCO-TV has learned that the Archdiocese has hired a high-powered criminal defense attorney to continue the investigation by a prominent Twin Cities law firm.
That highly regarded attorney hired is Peter Wold, and his investigation comes at a time when the Archdiocese is undertaking deep budget cuts because of legal fees associated with the child sex abuse scandal.
The Archdiocese has already paid Twin Cities law firm Greene Espel to investigate the claims that Nienstedt misconducted himself with adult seminarians and members of the clergy.
Wold said his task will be to “tie up loose ends.”
He told WCCO that he has questioned at least one person who has made claims about Nienstedt. Wold said
“I wasn’t challenging what [the witness] said to Greene Espel,” Wold said in a statement. “I was trying to get more information.
Wold said he was working on behalf of Auxiliary Bishop Lee Piche, the No. 2 person in the Archdiocese.
Wolde said his work was part of an “internal investigation” and that “what [Piche] does with it, he does with it.”
For professor Charles Reed, an expert on church law, the investigation raises questions.
“I frankly don’t know why they would need another layer of investigation on top of this,” he said, “particularly in light of the budget cuts.”
Piche released a statement Monday afternoon, saying that while Greene Espel finished their investigation in July, he hired Wold to help with “some remaining details in the same investigation.”
Piche’s statement added: “It would be a disservice to those involved to discuss any more of the specifics of the investigation while it is ongoing.”