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Retired Archbishop Flynn can't recall details of clergy abuse cases

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Retired Twin Cities Archbishop Harry Flynn testified under oath that he could not recall the details of clergy sexual abuse cases that arose in the archdiocese during his years as its head, according to documents released Wednesday.

Flynn was deposed by attorney Jeffrey Anderson, who is representing a man who claims he was sexually abused by a priest in the 1970s. The lawsuit, filed in 2013, alleges the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and the Diocese of Winona created a public nuisance by keeping information on accused priests secret.

Anderson released a transcript and video clips of Flynn's deposition Wednesday.

According to MPR News, Flynn said at least 134 times that he could not remember how he handled clergy sexual abuse cases while he led the archdiocese from 1995-2008. He also did not report any allegations of clergy abuse to police, he said, and did not recall asking anyone else to do so.

Flynn, 81, retired six years ago, and blamed his age for his inability to remember details.

Attorney Anderson asked Flynn why the archdiocese made special payments to several priests who had been credibly accused of abusing children.

“I felt very strongly that they would not be able to get jobs very easily, and so I wanted to give them some help,” he said, according to the deposition. But he said he wasn't sure how many priests received the special payments, the Star Tribune reports.

Flynn was at the forefront of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' response to the clergy abuse scandal when it erupted in 2002. He was the national chairman of the committee which created the "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People."

Other high-ranking officials in the archdiocese were also deposed as part of the case, including current Archbishop John Nienstedt and two former vicar generals – Rev. Peter Laird and Rev. Kevin McDonough. Their depositions were released to the public last month.

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