Twin Cities’ Hebda: Archdiocese’s response to abuse allegations was a failure not a crime / National Catholic Reporter

In the wake of the dismissal of criminal charges, the head of the St. Paul-Minneapolis archdiocese is maintaining its legal innocence in its response to abuse allegations concerning former priest Curtis Wehmeyer, drawing a distinct line between a failure and a crime.

“In addition, Archbishop Bernard Hebda stated he will not release the investigative report into sexual misconduct allegations raised against his predecessor Archbishop John Nienstedt, calling it ‘unwise’ at this point.

“Hebda made the comments Tuesday (Aug. 2) in a column and interview published in the archdiocesan newspaper. They came nearly two weeks after the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office ended its criminal case against the archdiocese after it agreed to include an admission of wrongdoing into an earlier civil settlement along with several additional provisions.

“The criminal case, brought last summer and soon followed by the resignations of Nienstedt and Auxiliary Bishop Lee Piché, alleged that the archdiocese failed to protect children in relation to three minors sexually abused by Wehmeyer, a priest in the Twin Cities before he was laicized in March 2015. He is currently in prison in Wisconsin.

“‘To be clear, the archdiocese failed the victims of Curtis Wehmeyer and their family — and for that we are deeply sorry,’ Hebda said in the column published in The Catholic Spirit.

“He continued: ‘A failure, however, isn’t the same as a crime. That is a legal question, not a moral question … Committing a crime implies a criminal intent and is something altogether different from failing.'”

By Brian Roewe, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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