Kevin McDonough, former vicar general, refused to cooperate with police investigations [VIDEO]


In video testimony released Thursday by Jeff Anderson's law firm, the former vicar general of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis admitted that he made a habit of penning official memos with an eye towards possible litigation, and when approached last year by St. Paul police refused to cooperate.

As the lone referee of priestly sex crimes for two decades -- a tenure that spanned three archbishops -- Kevin McDonough now expresses regret for a culture that believed sick men could be rehabilitated back into ministry. He shifted responsibility to his bosses and accused victims' attorney Jeff Anderson and the media of exaggerating the problem of clerical abuse.

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The blame game was in full force: Archbishop John Nienstedt pointed a finger at McDonough in video testimony released just the other day. Mike Finnegan, an attorney from Anderson's law firm, described McDonough at a press conference Thursday as "a master of half truths" and leveled fault on both officials.

"They cared more about their own reputations and scandal rather than the people who were wounded," Finnegan says.

The firm plans to petition the court for more time with McDonough. A judge ordered the deposition to go eight hours but McDonough's attorney ended around it six and a half. Finnegan says the archdiocese counted their breaks towards the allotted time.

We posted highlights of Nienstedt's deposition the other day, but let's take a look now at McDonough's. On the firm's website you can also browse the 320-page transcript in which McDonough acknowledges that the common church practice for years was to put suspected pedophiles in administrative roles rather than boot 'em.

1. Here McDonough admits that he never got back to two St. Paul detectives about their request for interview. Anderson pushes back and provokes this response from the former vicar general: "I don't see what would be appropriate about that."


2. Coming back to this point, Anderson asks McDonough what he was afraid of by not cooperating with authorities. Comes the reply: "I'm not afraid of much."

Anderson presses him on why he also refused to give an interview to a task force headed by the archbishop's delegate.

"My prudent choice was in the then-current environment that my participation would add nothing not already available in the records possessed by the archdiocese," McDonough says.

3. The conversation comes around to McDonough's note-keeping system. He says:

When I produced records my tendency was to mentally invite Jeff Anderson into the office presuming that I would be held accountable in the years ahead for my activity. So my general stance was to think in terms of what I was producing as being one day publicly available.

He thanks Anderson for a practice that started about 20 years ago.

4. Two themes in this final one are regret and public perception. McDonough laments that the church operated in the late 1980s with the assumption that dangerous men could be rehabilitated back into ministry work. Then he goes on to say that he believes Anderson has exaggerated claims. An archdiocesan attorney quickly declares the interview over.

"Can you give me one example?" Anderson says -- a question that goes unanswered.

-- Follow Jesse Marx on Twitter @marxjesse or send tips to [email protected]