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Archbishop Nienstedt deposed in clergy sex abuse case

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Archbishop John Nienstedt testified under oath Wednesday about his handling of clergy sexual abuse allegations in the St. Paul and Minneapolis archdiocese, in a deposition conducted by an attorney for a sex abuse victim.

The lawsuit was filed by a man who claims he was sexually abused by a priest, the Rev. Thomas Adamson, in the 1970s when he was assigned to St. Thomas Aquinas Church in St. Paul Park.

Neinstedt and the archdiocese made several attempts to postpone or cancel the deposition, but they were rebuffed by Ramsey County Judge John Van de North.

The plaintiff's attorney, Jeff Anderson, spoke to reporters after the deposition and claimed Nienstedt was not as forthcoming as he should have been, FOX 9 reports.

“It started the day with them failing to turn over the files that they were supposed to by court order, so we didn’t have all the files and the files that we did have were improperly deleted,” Anderson said, according to WCCO.

Anderson said he then asked Nienstedt to turn over all files on credibly accused priests to law enforcement, and at that point Neinstedt ended the deposition.

A judge has ordered the archdiocese to turn over thousands of documents about accused priests to Anderson, and church officials say they are in the process of complying with that order.

Another church official, former Vicar General Kevin McDonough, will be deposed on April 16.

Anderson says he will likely release portions of the deposition within the next month, MPR News reports.

The archdiocese released this statement regarding Archbishop Nienstedt's deposition late Wednesday afternoon.

ARCHDIOCESE OF ST. PAUL AND MINNEAPOLIS STATEMENT

In his deposition, Archbishop John Nienstedt repeatedly stated that the safety of children is the archdiocese's highest priority. He responded to questions about the tragedy of sexual abuse by clergy, and how the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis handled this issue during his tenure. He expressed regret for mistakes that were made in the past with how the archdiocese responded to allegations of sexual abuse against clergy. He assumed responsibility for mistakes that have been made since he became archbishop of the archdiocese in 2008. The archbishop was not asked any questions about the plaintiff, Doe 1, or Thomas Adamson, the offending former priest.

The archbishop noted recent changes that have been made by the archdiocese to address how any new reports of sexual abuse will be handled. He repeated his commitment to adopt upcoming recommendations, including those of an outside expert firm that is reviewing existing procedures and clergy files.

In particular, the archbishop highlighted safeguards implemented since 2002, when the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops adopted the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, including safe environment training and criminal background checks for clergy, employees and those volunteering with children in the Church. He also discussed changes that have been put in place recently.

He observed that in the past 10 years, there have been substantiated allegations made against two men formerly in ministry as priests in this archdiocese: Curtis Wehmeyer and Francisco Montero. The archdiocese cooperated with investigators in both cases. Both men were removed from public ministry after the archdiocese became aware of the sexual abuse allegations against them. Montero's bishop in Ecuador was informed about the allegations in 2007. The Archbishop committed today to contacting the bishop in Ecuador to express again grave concern if Montero should presently be in ministry in Ecuador.

The archbishop continues to express great concern for all victims of sexual abuse of minors, their family and loved ones.

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