Archbishop John Nienstedt under investigation for new sexual misconduct claims

Archbishop John Nienstedt under investigation for new sexual misconduct claims
Still taken from deposition

The latest allegations of clerical sexual misconduct go all the way to the top of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, falling on the head of Archbishop John Nienstedt.

News broke Tuesday when former top canon lawyer Jennifer Haselberger was quoted in Commonweal, a Catholic lay magazine, saying that she had been questioned by investigators with the Minneapolis firm Greene Espel. It left her with the impression that there "about ten sworn statements alleging sexual impropriety" against the archbishop, spanning his years spent in Detroit, New Ulm, and St. Paul, and involving seminarians, priests, and other men.

See also:
Archbishop John Nienstedt withheld info on sexually abusive priests

In a statement, Nienstedt denied the allegations "absolutely" but said he ordered the examination of himself in fairness. He was adamant: "The allegations do not involve minors or lay members of the faithful, and they do not implicate any kind of illegal or criminal behavior."

In a separate interview he gave to Commonweal, the archbishop explained that one of the allegations involved him improperly touching another priest's neck.

The only name that's been dropped so far is that of Curtis Wehmeyer, a convicted pedophile. Haselberger said investigators asked her about an "unprofessional" relationship between Nienstedt and Wehmeyer.

If true, claims of sexual advance on other men make Nienstedt, at the very least, a hypocrite. This is the same person who once told a conflicted mother that her "eternal salvation" was at risk because she so badly wanted to accept her gay son for who he was.

What's more, Nienstedt used his position to bully proponents of marriage equality, donating more than $650,000 of church money to the anti-gay-marriage cause. He's also been known to demonize homosexuals for their "grave evil" and "mortal sin."

The new allegations, though they surfaced around the same time, are reportedly unrelated to another allegation that Nienstedt touched a boy's butt during a confirmation photoshoot. In March, St. Paul police cleared the archbishop of wrongdoing in that case, then quickly reopened it.

-- Send story tips to the author or follow him on Twitter @marxjesse

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