Clergy Sex Abuse Attorney Says Nienstedt Didn't Answer Key QuestionsBy Esme Murphy

ST. PAUL (WCCO) — Archbishop John Nienstedt spent most of the day answering questions under oath about clergy sex abuse.

After the deposition, Nienstedt waved to photographers while being driven away from his attorney’s downtown St. Paul office.

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Attorney for many of the victims, Jeff Anderson, requested the deposition in the case of a lawsuit filed by a victim, who the courts call John Doe 1. The man says he was sexually abused by Father Thomas Adamson in 1976 and 1977.

Anderson did not hold back after the deposition, accusing Nienstedt of holding back information and not answering key questions.

“It started the day with them failing to turn over the files that they were supposed to by court order, so we didn’t have all the files and the files that we did have were improperly deleted,” Anderson said.

Anderson said he then asked Nienstedt to turn over all files on credibly accused priests to law enforcement.

“At that point in time, they instructed him to stop the deposition and he did not answer that question,” Anderson said.

The deposition came under court order in a lawsuit Anderson had brought against Father Thomas Adamson by a victim who says he was abused in the mid-1970s. The lawsuit says the archdiocese transferred Adamson 14 different times after other abuse claims.

Nienstedt did not become archbishop until 2008, but Anderson says Nienstedt is in charge of the files in both the older and more recent cases

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“He is a big part of the problem. He does have control over that,” Anderson said.

An archdiocese representative told WCCO’s Esme Murphy that they have been continuously providing information about credibly accused priests, put that on their website and will continue to do so.

The archdiocese released this statement shortly after our report on WCCO 4 News At 5:

In his deposition, Archbishop John Nienstedt repeatedly stated that the safety of children is the archdiocese’s highest priority. He responded to questions about the tragedy of sexual abuse by clergy, and how the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis handled this issue during his tenure. He expressed regret for mistakes that were made in the past with how the archdiocese responded to allegations of sexual abuse against clergy. He assumed responsibility for mistakes that have been made since he became archbishop of the archdiocese in 2008. The archbishop was not asked any questions about the plaintiff, Doe 1, or Thomas Adamson, the offending former priest.

The archbishop noted recent changes that have been made by the archdiocese to address how any new reports of sexual abuse will be handled. He repeated his commitment to adopt upcoming recommendations, including those of an outside expert firm that is reviewing existing procedures and clergy files.

In particular, the archbishop highlighted safeguards implemented since 2002, when the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops adopted the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, including safe environment training and criminal background checks for clergy, employees and those volunteering with children in the Church. He also discussed changes that have been put in place recently.

He observed that in the past 10 years, there have been substantiated allegations made against two men formerly in ministry as priests in this archdiocese: Curtis Wehmeyer and Francisco Montero. The archdiocese cooperated with investigators in both cases. Both men were removed from public ministry after the archdiocese became aware of the sexual abuse allegations against them. Montero’s bishop in Ecuador was informed about the allegations in 2007. The Archbishop committed today to contacting the bishop in Ecuador to express again grave concern if Montero should presently be in ministry in Ecuador.

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The archbishop continues to express great concern for all victims of sexual abuse of minors, their family and loved ones.

Esme Murphy