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November 1, 2014

Catholic League president hopes to identify Nienstedt accuser

The president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights wants to publicly identify the accuser who says Archbishop John Nienstedt inappropriately touched him at a 2009 confirmation ceremony.

The League is asking any Twin Cities-area Catholics with photos, video, or information about the event to share them. WCCO-AM reports it’s the first time the group has sought to independently identify an alleged victim.

Catholic League President Bill Donohue tells the radio station enemies of the church have orchestrated a crusade against Nienstedt and says “The time has come when people need to fight back.”

The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis announced this week that Nienstedt has stepped aside as archbishop while police investigate the allegation.

Donohue issued a statement on the Catholic League’s website that reads in part: “I know of no other leader, religious or secular, who would step down pending an investigation because some guy says he was touched on his behind four years ago in a group photo. It’s time the bishops revised their ‘zero tolerance’ policy. Too often, it means zero justice for the accused, thus undermining the legal principle of innocent until proven guilty.”

Earlier this month Donohue and the Catholic League were named in a defamation lawsuit filed by a Missouri man who says he was sexually abused by a priest, the Kansas City Star reports. The Star says David Couzens claims in the defamation suit that Donohue made false statements about him in news releases, on the Catholic League’s website, and in documents distributed to churches.

Couzens said in a statement ““I now understand why other victims don’t come forward. The things said about me are so cruel and offensive they cut to the core of my being,” the Star reports.

Meanwhile, police investigators in St. Paul met privately Wednesday with officials from the Twin Cities archdiocese, KSTP reports.  The police department said details of the meeting would not be made public.