No charges for Minnesota archbishop
accused of inappropriate touching
Send a link to a friend
[March 12, 2014]
MINNEAPOLIS (Reuters) — No charges
will be brought against Archbishop John Nienstedt, leader of the Roman
Catholic Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, who was accused by a
boy of inappropriately touching his buttocks during a group photo
session, prosecutors said on Tuesday.
Prosecutors found "insufficient evidence" to charge the archbishop
after an extensive St. Paul police investigation into the
allegation, the Ramsey County Attorney's Office said in a statement.
Nienstedt, who had denied any inappropriate contact, stepped aside
in December while authorities investigated the accusation. He is
resuming all public duties, the archdiocese said after prosecutors
dropped the case on Tuesday.
"While I look forward to my return to public ministry, I remain
committed to the ongoing work needed to provide safe environments
for all children and youth," Nienstedt said in a statement.
The accusation against Nienstedt became public at a time of growing
criticism of the archdiocese's handling of cases alleging sex abuse
by clergy members. It followed a court-ordered release by the
archdiocese of names of priests it said had been credibly accused of
child sex abuse.
Prosecutors said a broad police investigation into the handling of
child sex abuse allegations within the archdiocese remains active.
Richard Dusterhoft, criminal division director for the Ramsey County
attorney, said in a memo declining charges that the file was
reviewed by an assistant county attorney experienced in prosecuting
child sex abuse cases, who determined the "case could not be proven
beyond a reasonable doubt and should not be charged."
[to top of second column]
Dusterhoft said a male juvenile told his mother Nienstedt had
touched his buttocks during a group photo in May 2009 after a
confirmation service. She later told a friend over lunch who happens
to be a priest what her son had said and the priest reported it to
the archdiocese and to police, Dusterhoft said.
Police interviewed the accuser, Nienstedt and everyone in the
photograph, Dusterhoft said. No one reported being touched, seeing
anyone touched, or seeing anyone react as though something had
happened, he said.
The accuser told police Nienstedt's hand moved down his back to his
buttocks, but he did not feel violated, was concerned about the
attention the incident was receiving and did not believe it was
significant, Dusterhoft said.
(Reporting by David Bailey; editing by Mohammad Zargham)
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.