Mother of priest's victims reveals family pain, more abuse and church's rebuke
By Madeleine Barab
February 25, 2014
The mother of the boys abused by the Rev. Curtis Wehmeyer no longer ends her days with a silent prayer. Memories and flashbacks surface too easily in those quiet moments. Instead, she plays solitaire on her cell phone until sleep.
It's been nearly two years since she learned that two of her sons were abused by Wehmeyer and that one of the boys, in turn, sexually abused his 5-year-old twin sisters. Last year, a third son told her that he, too, had been abused by the priest. One of the boys, she also learned, abused an additional sibling. In all, six of her nine children have been sexually abused either by Wehmeyer or each other, she said.
Wehmeyer pleaded guilty in 2012 to sexually abusing two of the boys, ages 12 and 14, and possessing child pornography.
The family's life is now a blur of therapy appointments and psychiatric hospitalizations. It is, the mother said, "a war zone." She once hoped that some of her sons would become priests. Now she hopes that none commit suicide.
The mother, who asked that her name not be used to protect her children's privacy, spoke at length about the abuse — and the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis' response — for the first time in an interview last week with MPR News and another news organization. Victims' attorney Jeff Anderson has filed a lawsuit against the archdiocese on behalf of one of the boys.
More painful than the abuse, the mother said, is the knowledge that top church officials could have prevented it. MPR News reported in September that leaders in the archdiocese kept secret Wehmeyer's risky sexual behavior when Archbishop John Nienstedt appointed him pastor in 2009 of Blessed Sacrament and St. Thomas the Apostle, two St. Paul parishes that later merged.
Today, they're blaming her.
In a court filing earlier this month, lawyers for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis said that the mother, who still works at the St. Paul parish, should not have allowed her children to spend time alone with Wehmeyer.
"She was aware of the time (her son) spent with Mr. Wehmeyer, and she knew that such interaction was contrary to established Archdiocese policy," the archdiocese said in its filing, which was in response to a lawsuit filed on behalf of the youngest victim.
50 State AG Call for Grand Jury
Any investigation must be:
- independent of and separate from the church
- must have subpoena powers and ability to compel testimony under oath
Anything short of these criteria is a sham and whitewash.
In addition, write letters to the editor, make phone calls to politicians as they can apply pressure to keep them responsive to our demand. We need to make efforts to ensure that they follow up on what the state is doing to investigate these crimes.
The Attorneys General of forty states have inquired about the grand jury process in Pennsylvania. Let's get statewide investigations going in fifty states.
Note to Letter Writers
Use your own words and style of writing. Cut and paste from the templates as you wish. Include your experiences, whether as a survivor or as a member of the community. And relate your letter to the state you were abused in or state now living in.