Judge orders key archdiocese leaders to face deposition

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A ruling from a Ramsey County District Court judge is ordering the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis allow lawyers for an alleged clergy abuse victim to depose Archbishop John Nienstedt and former Vicar General Kevin McDonough within the next 30 days.

The Star Tribune reports Judge John Van de North also ordered the archdiocese create a list of all priests accused of sexually abusing minors since 2004, in a week.

The newspaper says Van de North called the case "very important" when referring to the demands on the archdiocese to provide information.

The case is centered around John Doe 1, who claimed he was abused by former priest Tom Adamson between 1976 and 1977.

KSTP reporter Beth McDonough said it's the first time ever leaders in the archdiocese will have to answer a lawyer's questions about allegations of clergy sex abuse.

The transcript of the depositions of Archbishop Nienstedt and Rev. McDonough along with the list of accused priests will be sealed, according to the KSTP report.

Last month, the judge gave the archdiocese a 30-day extension to release the list.

According to MPR News, Nienstedt will be questioned on the policies and practices of the archdiocese on the handling of allegations of abuse. Those questions will also focus on whether the archdiocese followed its own policies.

MPR reports Van de North repeatedly noted the national committee that drafted the church's standards for clergy sexual abuse cases was led by former Archbishop Harry Flynn. The judge said he doesn't understand why those policies would not be followed by the archdiocese.

Following the ruling, the archdiocese released a statement Tuesday evening.

Ramsey County District Court Judge John Van de North today ordered discovery to continue in the Doe 1 case. The Court also ordered the parties to submit proposed orders for the Court’s consideration regarding ongoing disclosure, which are due later this month.

The archdiocese looks forward to working with the Court and all affected parties to promote the protection of children, the healing of victims and the restoration of trust of the faithful and our clergy who are serving our communities nobly and with honor.

At the same time, we strongly assert our pursuit of justice for any who are falsely accused. All of these goals are the basis for every action and decision we are making regarding this ongoing disclosure.

Previously, the archdiocese had argued church records and depositions were not relevant to the case, according to the Star Tribune. The alleged abuse occurred long before either Nienstedt or McDonough were leading the archdiocese.

Victim's attorney Jeff Anderson told KARE 11, "We'll be given the opportunity to put them under oath, make them really answer tough questions. From that we hope a light will come to past practices so they won't be continued in the future."

KSTP reports Frank Meuers of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests said in a written statement, "We are grateful that a judge today ordered St. Paul Catholic officials to be deposed and turn over records about clerics who commit or conceal heinous crimes against kids. The need for more disclosure by church figures has been clear for years."

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