A former priest at a St. Paul church, who has already spent eight months in prison, will now get a new trial. The Minnesota Court of Appeals overthrew the conviction of Christopher Wenthe Monday. Wenthe was the priest at Nativity of Our Lord parish when a 21-year-old woman sought spiritual advice from him. The sexual relationship that ensued led to Wenthe's conviction on a third-degree criminal sexual conduct charge.
Wenthe's lawyer tells the Star Tribune the prosecution relied more on Wenthe's violation of church law, including his vow of celibacy, than on state law. Wenthe maintains the relationship with the woman was consensual, although she says he took advantage of her vulnerability.
Here's the court's opinion.