Choi should file perjury charges vs. Nienstedt, SNAP says
For immediate release: Friday, Oct. 24, 2014
Statement by Frank Meuers of Plymouth, Twin Cities SNAP director (952-334-5180,[email protected])
For the second time in six months, evidence has surfaced showing that Archbishop John Nienstedt “gave a false statement under oath,” according to Minnesota Public Radio.
We believe that Ramsey County district attorney John Choi should, at a bare minimum, investigate and likely charge Nienstedt with perjury.
We know such charges are rarely brought. But we also know that few officials have more recently concealed more child sex crimes – known and suspected – than Nienstedt and his top staff.
Nienstedt, in a statement to the Associated Press yesterday, claimed he gets “thousands” of letters. He neglected to mention, however, that he wrote a reply to a parishioner in this case. And his reply was deceitful as well.
“The archbishop's testimony on Gustafson wasn't the only false statement he made in the April 2 deposition,” MPR reported.
“Nienstedt said he didn't know until March that the Rev. Kenneth LaVan was still in ministry in violation of church policy. LaVan was accused in the 1980s of sexually assaulting at least one teenage girl and ‘sexually exploiting’ several women.”
‘I was not aware that he was publicly in ministry,’ Nienstedt said, referring to LaVan. ‘And as soon as I realized it, I had his faculties removed.’
Though retired, LaVan continued to assist with Masses at Twin Cities parishes until he was formally removed in December 2013.”
Both of these instances of Nienstedt’s deceit were exposed by caring Catholics and investigative reporting.
Imagine what other inconsistencies and deceit might be revealed if law enforcement took a close look at the depositions of Nienstedt and his top aides.
Often when victims, witnesses and whistleblowers report clerics who conceal or commit child sex crimes to law enforcement, we’re told “it was too long ago,” or “witnesses have died” or “records have been destroyed” or “memories are faded.” None of that is true in this case. Nienstedt’s deceit is recent and clearly documented. He’s had six months to step up and say that either he erred or he lied in his deposition. But he has not.
We commend a brave woman, LaLonne Murphy, who wrote to Nienstedt six years ago about Fr. Gil Gustafson's criminal conviction “and his ongoing work as a consultant for Twin Cities parishes.” We commend Ms. Murphy for sharing her letters to and from Nienstedt with MPR. If more caring Catholic church members and employees would show this kind of courage and compassion, more kids would be safe and more corruption would be exposed.
We beg anyone with information or suspicions about clergy sex crimes or cover ups in Minnesota to share what they know or believe with police, prosecutors or groups like ours, so that more truth can be exposed and more wrongdoing can be prevented.
And we beg Mr. Choi to launch a perjury probe into Nienstedt. It’s irresponsible to look the other way when a smart, well-educated and powerful man refuses to tell the truth about child molesters under oath.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 20,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)