In what looks to be the second case of its kind, criminal charges have been filed against the Catholic Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis for failing to protect the children who were molested by a priest named Curtis Wehmeyer, who is now in prison for those crimes.
The Ramsey County attorney’s office filed criminal charges Friday against the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis for “failing to protect children” from an abusive priest, marking the first time that a U.S. archdiocese has been criminally charged for such offenses.
The charges stem from the archdiocese’s oversight failures regarding former priest Curtis Wehmeyer, who is now serving a prison term. Wehmeyer sexually abused two boys in 2010 — at times plying them with alcohol and showing them pornography — while he was pastor of Blessed Sacrament Church in St. Paul.
“Today we are alleging a disturbing institutional and systemic pattern of behavior committed by the highest levels of leadership of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis over the course of decades,” said Ramsey County Attorney John Choi.
Choi called the facts of the case “appalling.” He said his office was both filing criminal charges and taking civil action because of the archdiocese’s failure to protect the boys despite “numerous and repeated reports of troubling conduct by Curtis Wehmeyer.”
These are misdemeanor criminal charges, but they were filed against the archdiocese itself, not against any individuals. That means the most that can happen to the church is a $3000 fine for each charge, which doesn’t come anywhere close to even being a slap on the wrist.