The mother of two boys abused by the Rev. Curtis Wehmeyer says church officials have blamed her for not protecting her sons.
“The burden this has placed on my family and the devastation ... is insurmountable,” the mother said. “It really cut deep when they blamed it on me.”
Wehmeyer pleaded guilty in 2012 to sexually abusing two boys, ages 12 and 14, and possessing child pornography. He is now serving a prison sentence.
Meanwhile, life for the boys and their family has become a "war zone," the mother said – long days of therapy appointments, psychiatric hospitalizations and financial stress. The mother says she has come to learn that a third son was also abused by Wehmeyer, and that one of the boys abused another sibling. She now believes six of her nine children were abused by either Wehmeyer or each other.
Her children have struggled with failure in school, depression, guilt, anxiety and nightmares, the Star Tribune reports.
The mother said she is haunted by her belief that the church could have prevented the abuse.
MPR News reported in September that leaders in the archdiocese knew of Wehmeyer's risky sexual behavior when he was appointed as a pastor in 2009 of Blessed Sacrament and St. Thomas the Apostle, two St. Paul parishes that later merged. The story was part of an ongoing MPR investigation of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.
The mother, a devout Catholic who still holds a job at the parish, said she has been further devastated by the church's effort to shift blame to her. Archdiocese lawyers in court filings this month said she should not have allowed her children to spend time alone with Wehmeyer, MPR notes.
"She was aware of the time (her son) spent with Mr. Wehmeyer, and she knew that such interaction was contrary to established Archdiocese policy," the archdiocese said in its filing, MPR reports. The mother called that "absurd," the Star Tribune notes.
The church is also placing financial strain on the family by cutting back on payments for family therapy and treatment, she said.
"It nauseates me to go to Mass and hear in the prayers of the faithful them say, 'Let's pray for the victims and their families,' when I've got a lien on my taxes because they won't pay my son's bill," she said.
A church official told MPR that the archdiocese has followed through on promises to pay for therapy for the family, although it did not pay for one of her boys to spend 66 days at a Washington County crisis home this summer because the bill was for housing, not mental health treatment.