September 29, 2018 09:52 AM
Gov. Mark Dayton met Friday with seven county attorneys around the state to discuss how to potentially investigate clergy sex abuse in Minnesota.
In a statement, Dayton’s office said the meeting regarded “the capabilities and challenges of conducting an investigation into possible sexual misconduct in the dioceses of Minnesota.”
The statement went on to say the “Governor has consulted with his legal counsel about the state’s role and authority in this matter and discussions will remain ongoing.”
The seven county attorneys released the following joint statement:
“In conjunction with the BCA, the county attorneys of Ramsey, Winona, Olmsted, Stearns, St. Louis, Brown and Polk have agreed to collaboratively assess and consider various legal options that may exist to provide the people of Minnesota with an appropriate investigative response and action that local county attorneys with an archdiocese located in their jurisdiction could undertake. The BCA and the county attorneys who participated in this meeting have also agreed to meet again in the next month to continue our conversation after conducting our due diligence to determine the appropriateness of any official action that could be undertaken on behalf of the public that we represent.”
Jeff Anderson, an attorney for the survivors of sex abuse by priests, called for an investigation after the Pennsylvania Attorney General released a grand jury report in August.
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The report accuses dioceses throughout Pennsylvania of covering up sexual abuse by more than 300 priests and involving at least 1,000 victims.
After the report was released, Archbishop Bernard Hebda said the Archdiocese of Minneapolis-St. Paul “would cooperate with any further investigation.”
In a statement, Hebda also said that he has not been contacted by investigators in Pennsylvania about his time at the Diocese of Pittsburgh.
Hebda was ordained as a priest in Pittsburgh in 1989 by then-bishop Donald Wuerl.
Hebda is not named in the grand jury report and is not accused of any wrongdoing. But Wuerl is named in the report more than 200 times.
Hebda served as Wuerl's personal secretary from 1990 to 1992. During that time period, Wuerl was accused of moving a priest suspected of sexual abuse.
In a statement to 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS, Hebda said he had no knowledge of any of those allegations and did not know about that priest until he read the allegations in the grand jury report. Hebda explained his role under Wuerl as a driver and the person who arranged dinners and events.
In that statement, he said: “I was horrified by what I read in that report... matters concerning allegations against priests were handled by the clergy personnel office and the secretariat for clergy. I never served in either of those offices in any capacity."
Hebda was sent to Rome, Michigan and New Jersey following his time in Pittsburgh.
In 2015, he came to Minnesota to address the sex abuse scandal that led to the archdiocese's bankruptcy.
Updated: September 29, 2018 09:52 AM
Created: September 28, 2018 02:27 PM
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