Wed. 10:12 pm: No charges in archdiocese’s handling of abuse case

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Minnesota prosecutors said today they would not charge members of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis over the way they handled allegations of sexual abuse by a priest, saying there was not enough evidence to prove anyone – including another priest who learned during a confession of the molestation – violated the law.

Ramsey County Attorney John Choi said his office can’t prove beyond a reasonable doubt that anyone failed to immediately report allegations of abuse by the Rev. Curtis Wehmeyer, who is serving a five-year prison sentence for molesting two brothers.

But, Choi said, the overall investigation into allegations of clergy sexual misconduct, and the archdiocese’s response, is far from over.

“We will only allow facts to lead the way, and we will pursue justice without fear or favor while doing our best to leave no stone unturned,” Choi said, later adding: “I continue to be troubled by some of the church’s reporting practices.”

In a separate case, Washington County prosecutors said today they would not charge another archdiocesan priest, the Rev. Jonathan Shelley, who had been accused of possessing child pornography. Prosecutors said authorities concluded none of the images on Shelley’s old computer were illegal.

In a statement today, the archdiocese said it is grateful for the investigations, and it continues to cooperate with authorities. The archdiocese also said it teaches employees and volunteers that any suspected abuse should be reported to law enforcement for investigation.

The Wehmeyer and Shelley cases were among several that raised questions about the way the archdiocese handled abuse cases after a church insider went public with her concerns last year.

Internal documents showed church leaders knew Wehmeyer had issues with sexual misconduct, including at least two solicitations of men for sex, before he was promoted to lead The Church of the Blessed Sacrament in 2009.