MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The embattled Twin Cities archdiocese has appointed a former top cop to investigate allegations of clergy abuse.
Tim O’Malley is not only the former Superintendent of the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, he is also a judge and a former FBI agent. Archbishop John Nienstedt announced O’Malley’s appointment to the new position of Director of Ministerial Standards and Safe Environment.
“I’m hoping that by these steps we are taking, we can regain the trust of our clergy and victim survivors,” Nienstedt said.
O’Malley said he’s honored to have the job.
“The first step is to make sure that it doesn’t happen again,” O’Malley said, referring to the clergy sex abuse scandal that’s rocked the Catholic Church.
O’Malley says while he is deeply troubled by the church’s handling of abuse claims, he is confident he will have the full authority to investigate all misconduct cases. Nienstedt said O’Malley will have the power to investigate all alleged misconduct.
“He is his own man. He is a man of great integrity and experience and he will report directly to me,” Nienstedt said.
The Archdiocese press release quotes from prominent admirers of O’Malley, including Patty Wetterling, whose son Jacob was kidnapped and disappeared in 1989. Wetterling said O’Malley “has proven his commitment to building a world without sexual violence.”
University of St. Thomas professor Charles Reid, who has been highly critical of the Archdiocese’s handling of abuse cases, said this could be a turning point.
“The Archdiocese needs someone with Tim O’Malley’s background,” Reid said.
O’Malley said he’ll take steps to investigate past cases, and work to stop further abuse. He said his background in law enforcement should help.
“We do it by doing background checks, and raising awareness,” he said. “Unfortunately there are people out there who abuse children, and when it happens we need to be prepared to help the victims, and then get to the bottom of it, and get to the people and make them accountable for what happened.”
O’Malley will be responsible for making sure the Archdiocese is in compliance with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People and related federal and state laws.
While the Archdiocese clearly hopes the O’Malley appointment helps set a new direction, there are still many issues remaining. Among the most prominent are allegations that Archbishop Nienstedt himself acted in a sexually inappropriate way with adult seminarians.
The Archbishop has denied the allegations and would only answer questions today about O’Malley. In fact, the Archdiocese has never given a clear indication if any or part of the investigation surrounding himself will ever be made public.