Investigation: Church knew of St. Paul priest's past

Author:
Publish date:

A new MPR investigation has revealed that officials at the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis 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.

Curtis Wehmeyer, a priest at Blessed Sacrament Church in St. Paul, pleaded guilty to sexually abusing two brothers, ages 12 and 14, and possessing child pornography. He was sentenced in February.

Wehmeyer was also accused of getting drunk, smoking marijuana and looking at child pornography in a camper he parked outside the church.

The archdiocese had told the public that it had pounced on the allegations in June 2012, promptly reporting them to authorities. In a statement, the archdiocese last year said church officials "immediately reported the allegations to the St. Paul police, and an investigation was begun."

But MPR examined documents and conducted interviews that suggest that church officials lied. Among the documents uncovered by MPR was a memo from a top archdiocese official that indicated that he did not want parish employees to know about Wehmeyer's long history of sexual improprieties.

"At every step of the way, this could have been prevented," canon lawyer Jennifer Haselberger, who resigned in April, told MPR. "This is just failure after failure after failure after failure."

MPR has collected a number of relevant records in the case, and assembled an interactive timeline of events.

After an investigation was finally launched, it was revealed that Wehmeyer also had a record of driving while intoxicated.

Next Up

Related