By Madeleine Baran
Friday, April 4, 2014
The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis said Thursday that it has contacted nearly 50 law enforcement agencies in the past two weeks to provide files on priests accused of child sexual abuse. However, none of 12 metro law enforcement agencies contacted by MPR News confirmed that the archdiocese had offered files to review.
The archdiocese made the claim in a statement emailed to MPR News on Thursday morning. It said, "Beginning, last week, the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis informed nearly 50 law enforcement agencies that we were going to provide several priest files to Jeff Anderson and we offered the police the opportunity to review those files."
The archdiocese wouldn't provide a list of the 50 agencies. MPR News contacted 18 law enforcement agencies in the Twin Cities metro area and 12 responded. Eleven officials said they had no record of any contacts with the archdiocese in the past two weeks.
New Prague Police Chief Mark Vosejpka was the only official who said he received a call. He said an attorney from a private firm called him on behalf of the archdiocese on Monday. The attorney said the archdiocese planned to release information to the public within the next month about priests it believes have been credibly accused of child sexual abuse, Vosejpka said.
"I said, 'Well do you want to email me the information?' And he said, 'No, just call me back later this month,'" Vosejpka said.
Vosejpka said the lawyer wouldn't say why he called him or what specific information would be released. "It was very odd," he said.
A contentious issue
The archdiocese's cooperation with law enforcement officials has been a contentious issue in recent months following an MPR News investigation that found top church officials had covered up abuse by clergy for decades.
St. Paul Police Chief Thomas Smith criticized the archdiocese in December for not assisting police in their investigations of clergy sexual abuse. Victims of abuse and their attorneys have called for police to force the archdiocese to turn over thousands of files on priests accused of sexually abusing children. However, Smith and Ramsey County Attorney John Choi have said they do not have enough evidence to obtain search warrants.
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