MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — For years, Father Kevin McDonough was in charge of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis’ internal investigations into abuse claims. Now, a wave of new claims that the church mishandled and covered up abuse for decades has raised questions about McDonough’s actions.
Just this week, the Archdiocese’s internal task force sharply criticized McDonough, saying when he served as Vicar General he at times failed to report abuse claims to the Clergy Abuse Counsel.
On Wednesday, McDonough was deposed by Attorney Jeff Anderson, who represents numerous local sex abuse victims.
This deposition follows one in the same case by Archbishop John Nienstedt and while the Archbishop’s deposition was a half day, McDonough’s went until shortly before 6 p.m.
McDonough and Nienstedt’s court-ordered depositions are part of a lawsuit brought by a man who says Father Thomas Adamson abused him in the mid-1970s. The lawsuit says the archdiocese transferred Adamson 14 different times after other abuse claims.
The questioning of McDonough in the deposition is expected to go way beyond the Adamson case.
In 2002, McDonough said mistakes had been made in the case of Father Lee Krautkremer.
“We very much regret in that mid-1980s period he was not just reassigned to not just one but two parishes,” McDonough said at the time.
But in the past six months questions have surfaced over McDonough and the archdiocese’s handling of not only older but more recent cases. St. Paul police have publicly criticized McDonough for interfering with the case of Father Curtis Wehmeyer, who pleaded guilty in 2012 to abusing two St. Paul boys.
Twin Cities Defense Attorney Joe Tamburino says the videotaped depositions of both Nienstedt and McDonough are permanent records that could be used in other cases.
“You could be caught in a lie under oath. You could be impeached with it. Technically, you could be charged with a crime for it. Technically, those depositions could be used by other parties a prosecutor could get them and use them against you,” Tamburino said.
McDonough has not returned numerous phone calls to his parish office at St. Peter Claver Church in St Paul were he continues to serve as pastor. On Wednesday evening, the archdiocese released the following statement:
“In today’s deposition, Father Kevin McDonough responded to questions about his involvement with the archdiocese’s handling of matters involving allegations of clergy sexual abuse while he served as Vicar General between 1991 and 2008, and Delegate for Safe Environment from 2008 to 2013.
When needed, he clarified misstatements and mischaracterizations of the incidents that occurred while he held these positions. Fr. McDonough cooperated throughout the session which met the court-ordered eight-hour requirement.
Father McDonough emphasized that he always had the best interests of children and the vulnerable in mind when doing his work. He also acknowledged that the harm cause by sexual abuse is serious and grave.”
A statement released by Anderson’s firm says that during the deposition, McDonough said that there had been some exaggeration on Anderson’s part concerning the risk posed to the public due to some of the archdiocese’s practices. When asked to elaborate, Anderson says McDonough refused.
Anderson also says McDonough’s attorneys wrapped up the disposition one-and-a-half-hours earlier than the allotted eight hours, and he hopes to make up that time as soon as possible.