Defrocked: Pope Francis removes convicted sexual abuser from priesthood

Author:
Publish date:

Curtis Wehmeyer, who was convicted of abusing children while he was pastor at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in St. Paul, has been permanently removed from the priesthood.

Pope Francis took the action, according to a statement from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, three years after Wehmeyer was arrested on charges of sexually abusing two brothers, then age 12 and 14, on numerous occasions.

Some of the abuse occurred in a camper that Wehmeyer had parked on church grounds.

"Wehmeyer has been permanently and definitively barred from presenting himself as a priest or exercising priestly ministry," the archdiocese said. "He is also prohibited from exercising a teaching or leadership role in any Catholic institution."

Wehmeyer had been removed from ministry – not allowed to perform the duties of priest – in 2012. The archdiocese said the Pope's action is the "final resolution of Wehmeyer’s status as a priest," and added that Wehmeyer has been informed of the action.

Wehmeyer, 50, is serving a five-year sentence at the state prison in St. Cloud after pleading guilty in November 2012 to three sexual assault charges and 17 counts of possessing child pornography. He was sentenced in February 2013.

Wehmeyer also is accused of additional crimes in Wisconsin. Prosecutors in Chippewa County charged him in November with second-degree sexual assault, after a 21-year-old man told police last year that Wehmeyer assaulted him while they were on camping trip together in 2011. The man was 16 at the time of the alleged abuse. The case is still pending.

An MPR News investigation of the archdiocese's handling of clergy sexual abuse claims disclosed that top local church officials were aware of Wehmeyer's sexual compulsions for nearly a decade before he was charged, but they kept him in ministry and did not warn parishioners.

Next Up

Related