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Priest reportedly approached young men at Barnes & Noble, asked, "Are you fucking horny?"

Curtis Wehmeyer
Curtis Wehmeyer

In the summer of 2012, Curtis Wehmeyer, a priest at Parish of the Blessed Sacrament in St. Paul, was charged with sexually abusing two boys and possessing child pornography.

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Wehmeyer's arrest came after the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis reported allegations against him to police, and the church spun the story as one where they took quick and decisive action against an alleged pedophile priest. But if an in-depth MPR report can be believed, that was anything but the case.

According to MPR, reports of sexual misconduct involving Wehmeyer reached archdiocese officials as early as 2004, three years after he became a priest. In the spring of 2011, a high-ranking Catholic official wrote a memo to a colleague about how they should deal with the allegations.

Regarding an incident where Wehmeyer allegedly approached a man in a Borders bookstore and engaged in "suggestive conversation," Father Kevin McDonough, the archdiocese's "delegate for a safe environment," wrote that it was his belief Wehmeyer "was not all that interested in an actual sexual encounter, but rather was obtaining some stimulation by 'playing with fire.'"

"This sort of behavior would not show up in the workplace. I agree with Father Curtis that disclosure there would only serve to out his sexual identity questions (which, by the way, would be unlikely to surprise any observant person in the parish!)," McDonough continued, concluding that his recommendation "is that we encourage (or even require) Father Wehmeyer to disclose his pattern of self-destructive behavior to a small circle of trusted friends."

Seven years earlier, McDonough, then working as the archdiocese's vicar general, received his first report about Wehmeyer behaving inappropriately in a Twin Cities bookstore. MPR's report details that incident:

[In May 2004] Wehmeyer approached two young men ages 19 and 20 for sex at a Barnes & Noble store in Roseville. "It was really strange, the way he came on to us," one of the men, Andy Chapeau, said in an interview with MPR News.

Wehmeyer leaned close to one of the men and said, "Are you f--horny right now?"

A Catholic parishioner heard about the incident and brought it to McDonough's attention shortly after it occurred, but the church didn't take action. From MPR:

McDonough met with the concerned parishioner and one of the men approached by Wehmeyer at the bookstore. He assured them that Wehmeyer was receiving counseling. The parishioner wasn't satisfied with McDonough's answers, and he worried that he might hear about Wehmeyer in the news years later. When that happened, the parishioner wrote a furious letter to Nienstedt, the archbishop.

Despite numerous allegations of inappropriate conduct, Wehmeyer managed to keep his name out of the police blotter until June 2012, when he was charged with repeatedly abusing a 12-year-old boy his 14-year-old brother. One of the boys said Wehmeyer offered him cigarettes and beer, and showed him pornography. After he was abused, one of the brothers later abused both of his sisters. That abuse was reported to the boys' mother by one of the sisters.

MPR explains how the cycle of abuse was traced back to the priest:

The mother didn't understand how the boy could've learned about sex already. She asked him if he'd been watching pornography.

Yes, the boy said. Wehmeyer showed it to him.

Wehmeyer pleaded guilty and is currently serving five years in prison.

-- Follow Aaron Rupar on Twitter at @atrupar. Got a tip? Drop him a line at arupar@citypages.com.


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