Six named to Archdiocese's task force on priest misconduct

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The task force looking into allegations of sexual misconduct by priests and how the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has handled them includes a psychologist, lawyers, and a former police officer.

As KSTP reports, the priest assembling the panel named six members Wednesday.

The newspaper of the archdiocese, The Catholic Spirit, reports Rev. Reginald Whitt is still considering additional candidates.

The Catholic Spirit has biographies of the task force members named Wednesday, which are:

- Kathleen Erickson DiGiorno, a longtime member of a parish in Roseville and an attorney at Medtronic

- Julie Oseid, a law professor at the University of St. Thomas

- Brook Schaub, an expert in computer forensics and a former St. Paul police sergeant who specialized in Internet crimes against children

- Brian Short, CEO of Leamington Co. who also serves as a legal mediator

- Colleen Striegel, an executive with the American Refugee Committee who investigated sexual abuse of refugees by aid workers in West Africa

- Michael Thompson, a psychologist with expertise in assessing and treating sex offenders

KSTP says in naming the task force members, Rev. Whitt called recent allegations of sexual misconduct by priests "sickening." The Catholic Spirit quotes Archbishop John Nienstedt as saying “These allegations must be addressed urgently, transparently and with truly independent review.”

Rev. Whitt is assembling the task force but no clergy members will sit on the panel, which will make recommendations to the church.

Two cases have turned new attention to priest misconduct and how the archdiocese handles it.

One involves Rev. Curtis Wehmeyer, a St. Paul priest now serving a prison sentence for sexually abusing two boys and possessing child pornography. An MPR investigation found evidence the archdiocese knew of Wehmeyer's sexual compulsions for years without removing him from the ministry.

The other is a newly revived police investigation into whether a priest in Hugo had child porn on his computer.

Jennifer Haselberger tells the Associated Press she resigned from her job as the archdiocese's chancellor for canonical affairs last spring because she felt her concerns about both priests had been ignored.

The archdiocese says Archbishop Nienstedt had no input into the membership of the task force, which is officially called the Safe Environment and Ministerial Standards Task Force.

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