minnesota.publicradio.org Curtis Wehmeyer kept his white 2006 camper parked outside Blessed Sacrament Church in St. Paul where he served for six years, three of them as pastor. With the shades drawn, Wehmeyer could avoid the obligations of priestly life. He got drunk, smoked pot and looked at child pornography. He also lured to the camper two boys whose mother worked at the parish, plied them with alcohol, turned on pornography and told them to touch themselves. Several times, he touched one of the boys, according to police records. Curtis Wehmeyer (Photo courtesy of Minnesota Department of Corrections) The family trusted "Father Curt." As a priest, he had special powers. He could anoint the sick and baptize the young. Maybe, the mother hoped, he could inspire one of her sons to become a priest. That hope died last summer when one of the boys told his aunt what happened in the camper. The mother went to another priest, and then to the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. Soon after, police arrested Wehmeyer, who pleaded guilty to sexually abusing the boys, ages 12 and 14, and possessing child pornography. A judge sentenced the priest to five years in prison. In public statements, the archdiocese expressed regret for "the pain caused by clergy misconduct" and offered support to victims. And it emphasized that it immediately reported the allegations to police. "They did the right thing," Ramsey County Attorney John Choi said in September 2012. The message from the archdiocese was clear – this wouldn't be like the many horrific clergy sex abuse cases that rocked the Roman Catholic Church a decade ago. Times had changed. The safety of children mattered more than the career of a predator priest. The reality was far different. This wasn't the first time Wehmeyer had been in trouble. 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 said. "This is just failure after failure after failure after failure."
The memoThe Rev. Kevin McDonough served as vicar general — the archbishop's second in command — from 1991 to 2008. He's pastor of two parishes and has long been a leader within the archdiocese. (Getty Images/File 2007) The decision in 2011 to still keep Wehmeyer's sexual behavior secret came at a time when the Rev. Kevin McDonough was assuring the archdiocese's 800,000 parishioners that the church was doing everything it could to protect children from abuse. Across the nation bishops were being forced to confront their decisions to protect priests and hide abuse, which resulted in millions of dollars in payments to victims. to read more click here: minnesota.publicradio.org
Sign up for our free e-mail list to see future vaticancatholic.com videos and articles.