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Archdiocese Files Motion to Hold Order of Testimonies by Top Officials

Updated: 02/14/2014 12:57 PM
Created: 02/14/2014 12:22 PM KSTP.com
By: Megan Stewart

A recent and unprecedented court ruling on church abuse allegations Tuesday is being contested by the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis.

The archdiocese filed a motion Thursday with Ramsey County Judge John van De North to put on hold a court order which compels Archbishop John Nienstedt and the Rev. Kevin McDonough to give sworn testimony.

The testimony is expected to detail what they know about sex abuse allegations made against priests in the archdiocese.

The archdiocese also gave the judge notice it will be filing with the Minnesota Court of Appeals.

The motion came in addition to the archdiocese releasing a report of financial dealings with sex abuse allegations, which shows church officials spent around $3.2 million for room, board and living expenses for priests and ex-priests accused of sexual abuse or other misconduct.

Overall, the archdiocese says it has paid more than $8.8 million in the past 10 years over clergy sexual abuse and other misconduct by priests.

The archdiocese released this statement on Friday:

On Thursday, February 13, the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis filed a motion with Ramsey County Judge John Van de North asking him to put a hold on the rulings he made at the hearing on Tuesday, February 11 and giving him notice that the archdiocese will be filing a motion with the Minnesota Court of Appeals.

Over the past five months, the archdiocese has taken unprecedented actions to address open questions regarding clergy misconduct and our handling of these cases, including the establishment of an independent Task Force to review our practices in this regard and the engagement of a nationally-experienced firm to conduct a thorough review of our clergy files. We have made a public commitment to prudent and ongoing disclosure of substantiated claims of sexual abuse of a minor. We have also committed to remove from ministry any clergy member with a credible claim made against him and immediately alert the public. We have kept both of these commitments and will continue to do so for the healing of victims and the protection of children. We have communicated and reinforced repeatedly that our goals are to protect children, care for victims, and do all in our power to restore trust with the faithful and our clergy who are serving with honor. We have made promises and we intend to keep them.

We are appealing the rulings of Judge Van de North because his sweeping order allows for discovery efforts that are not related to the specific case before the Court which involves a claim from 1976-77 by Thomas Adamson. In short, the extensive requirements of the judge’s order reach beyond the limits of Minnesota law.

The facts involving the history of misconduct of Thomas Adamson are well known, well documented in prior cases and were widely covered by the media decades ago. The Judge’s order calls for Archbishop Nienstedt, who did not arrive in the archdiocese until 2007 and who has no information about Adamson, to testify under oath about the claims of the plaintiff regarding activity that occurred decades before the archbishop’s tenure.

Our appeal also seeks justice for clergy who have been and may in the future be falsely accused. The judge has ordered disclosure of the names of clergy against whom any accusation has been made, regardless of whether these claims meet the minimum standard of credibility or have already been determined to be false.

As announced months ago, we are committed to the disclosure of names and related information of any clergy member who has a substantiated claim of sexual abuse of a minor against him. We have already done so and are committed to ongoing disclosure as the outside firm Kinsale completes the file review process. However, we must vigorously defend the rights of clergy members who have been the subject of false, frivolous or malicious claims against them. While we must place justice for victims of heinous crimes as our top priority, we must also defend those who have been unjustly accused.

In short, because we feel the rulings that were made at the Court hearing on Tuesday are not supported by Minnesota law, the archdiocese must proceed with the appeal.

This appeal is undertaken with the utmost respect for victims and others who have been harmed by the illegal and immoral acts of some of our clergy over the past 50 years. We remain humbled and can never express enough how sorry we are for the harm victims have experienced.


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