Church lawyer de­tails cover- up claims on sex abuse

The Covington News - - THE WIRE -

A canon lawyer al­leg­ing a wide­spread cover-up of clergy sex mis­con­duct in the Arch­dio­cese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has made her most de­tailed claims yet, ac­cus­ing arch­bish­ops and their top staff of ly­ing to the pub­lic and of ig­nor­ing the U.S. bish­ops’ pledge to have no tol­er­ance of priests who abuse.

Jennifer Hasel­berger, who spent five years as Arch­bishop John Nien­st­edt’s ar­chiv­ist and top ad­viser on Ro­man Catholic church law, also charged that the church used a chaotic sys­tem of record-keep­ing that helped con­ceal the back­grounds of guilty priests who re­mained on as­sign­ment.

Hasel­berger said that when she started ex­am­in­ing records in 2008 of clergy un­der re­stric­tions over sex mis­con­duct with adults and chil­dren she found “nearly 20” of the 48 men still in min­istry. She said she re­peat­edly warned Nien­st­edt and his aides about the risk of these place­ments, but they took ac­tion only in one case. As a re­sult of rais­ing alarms, she said she was even­tu­ally shut out of meet­ings about priest mis­con­duct. She re­signed last year.

“Had there been any se­ri­ous de­sire to im­ple­ment change, it could have been done quickly and eas­ily with the stroke of a sin­gle pen,” Hasel­berger wrote in the af­fi­davit, re­leased Tues­day in a civil law­suit brought by at­tor­ney Jeff An­der­son.

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