Internal archdiocesan documents obtained by MPR News raise questions about what the University of St. Thomas knew about sexual abuse allegations against a professor in 2006.
In a letter to then-vicar general Kevin McDonough, parishioner Kate Ternus described her concerns about the contents of the Rev. Jon Shelley's computer. Her family received Shelley's used computer in 2004, and the archdiocese later determined it contained "borderline illegal" pornography. The letter dated Sept. 17, 2004 mentions a local Catholic high school and could indicate for the first time that Shelley's behavior may have gone beyond pornography.
The call was prompted by an ongoing criminal investigation, said Police Commander Mary Nash of the department's family and sexual violence unit. She declined to provide any details.
The complaint alleges the Rev. Michael Keating "engaged in multiple instances of unpermitted, harmful, and offensive sexual contact" from 1997 to 2000 while he was a student at St. Paul Seminary. The Chisago County Sheriff's Office investigated the allegations in 2006 and closed the case without criminal charges. That same year, the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis conducted its own investigation and recommended restrictions to Keating's ministry, but concluded there was insufficient evidence to indicate sexual abuse of a minor. Keating did not respond to an interview request.
The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis said today in a memo to all clergy that the Rev. Michael Keating, a popular speaker and professor at the University of St. Thomas, has taken a leave of absence.
St. Paul Police announced Tuesday that the department is reopening an investigation into whether a priest in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis had child pornography on his computer. Minnesota Public Radio reporter Madeleine Baran has been covering this story extensively. She's also covered other cases of child pornography. MPR's Cathy Wurzer spoke with her about how these kind of investigations work.
The former accounting director of the Twin Cities archdiocese said recently that several accused priests receive pension payments higher than normal. Another former church official discovered them, too, over the past few years and had them stopped. The archdiocese says church law requires that offending priests must have 'financial, therapeutic and spiritual support.' The Rev. Robert Kapoun is one of them.
In the past two weeks an MPR News investigation has reported extensively on the handling of clergy sex abuse by the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis. A key source in those stories is a former high ranking church official who says she pushed for the church to change its ways and then resigned when it didn't. Jennifer Haselberger has now become a central figure in this unfolding story.
The department had recently closed the case looking into allegations of child pornography found on computer files once belonging to the Rev. Jonathan Shelley for lack of evidence.
New documents related to a Twin Cities priest found to have pornography on his computer show that archdiocesan leaders debated internally for a year whether the images met the legal definition of child pornography. They also provide a closer look at how past and present leaders decided to keep the matter quiet and keep the priest in ministry.
A Saturday letter from the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis asked priests to tell parishioners during Mass this weekend about Archbishop John Nienstedt's formation of a lay task force that will review the handling of clergy sexual misconduct.
In a publicly released statement, Jennifer Haselberger asked Archbishop John Nienstedt to allow an independent review of clergy files and "make public the list of clergy who have been determined to have engaged in acts of sexual misconduct, as well as those whom could reasonably be assumed to pose a threat to children and young people."
Leaders in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis confiscated pornography -- some of which might have portrayed children -- from the Rev. Jonathan Shelley's old laptop. But they didn't report it for nearly a decade, until a church official found it and, frustrated with her superiors' lack of response, went to police herself.
"I am hopeful my decision to step aside at this time, along with the formation of a new task force can help repair the trust of many, especially the victims of abuse," the Rev. Peter Laird said in a prepared statement. He will continue to serve in a variety of roles within the archdiocese.
A former top accountant for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis claimed Monday that the church has made payments to nine priests despite their sexual misconduct.