The Catholic Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis says financial payments were among the ways church officials supported nine priests accused of sexual misconduct.
MPR reports a statement from the Archdiocese says it also extended therapeutic and spiritual help to the priests and monitored offenders to guard against additional misconduct.
The church's response came the day after a former accountant who stole money from the church provided reporters with information about the payments to the priests and his concerns about them.
Scott Domeier, of Cottage Grove, pleaded guilty in May to filing improper tax returns and stealing in excess of $600,000 from his employer. Domeier was sentenced Monday to 39 months in prison.
The archdiocese had said insurance would cover the loss. Domeier reportedly used the money to pay off credit cards and on private school tuition.
But at a hearing Monday, a second story emerged. Domeier's lawyer gave reporters a memo that Domeier had sent in 2012 to lawyers for the archdiocese, explaining Domeier's concerns that top archdiocesan officials had created a hostile work environment with payments to bad priests, MPR reports.
Domeier said he thinks payments to the nine retired priests are "morally wrong, unethical and illegal" because he alleges they were involved in sexual misconduct either with a minor or an adult woman, MPR reports. Domeier specifically objected to payments made to priests to help them pay for legal expenses related to lawsuits, the Pioneer Press reports.
Domeier's claims are backed by the church's former top canon lawyer, Jennifer Haselberger, who resigned in April, MPR says. An archdiocese spokesman declined to answer questions about the new allegations.
A separate MPR investigation last week revealed that officials at the archdiocese knew of a priest’s sexual compulsions for nearly a decade before he was sentenced to five years in prison, but they kept him in the ministry and did not warn parishioners.