ST. PAUL, Minn. - When the Rev. Curtis Wehmeyer was accused last year of sexually abusing children, officials from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis told police he would immediately be relieved of his duties and were praised for their response.
But a Minnesota Public Radio special report maintains top archdiocese officials had known of Wehmeyer's sexual compulsions for nearly a decade yet kept him in ministry and failed to warn parishioners.
Wehmeyer is serving a 5-year prison term for sexually abusing two boys and possessing child pornography. He declined to comment, as did Archbishop John Nienstedt.
This wasn't the first time Wehmeyer had been in trouble, MPR reports. Top archdiocese leaders knew of Wehmeyer's sexual compulsions for nearly a decade but kept him in ministry and failed to warn parishioners, according to canon lawyer Jennifer Haselberger, who resigned in April, and dozens of other interviews and documents.
A memo written in 2011 obtained by MPR News from police shows the former vicar general - the top deputy of the archdiocese - did not want parish employees to know about Wehmeyer's past.
"At every step of the way, this could have been prevented," Haselberger told Minnesota Public Radio. "This is just failure after failure after failure after failure."
The Rev. Kevin McDonough, who oversaw child prevention efforts in the archdiocese until he left that role earlier this month, says nothing in what church officials knew about Wehmeyer's behavior indicated he was a threat to children.
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