MN--Accused priest is deemed not guilty
For immediate release: Monday, Dec. 8
Statement by Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 503 0003, [email protected] )
A Twin Cities priest has been found not guilty of sexually exploiting a women who sought counseling from him. We are disappointed in this verdict but proud of and grateful to the brave woman who helped police and prosecutors pursue this important case.
(Minnesota is one of 17 states in which it's a crime for any clergy to have any sexual contact with congregants, adults or children).
A highly educated, allegedly celibate man who holds the revered title Catholic priest cannot ever have truly consensual sex with a congregant. Catholics have been raised since birth to believe priests are God's representatives on earth, can forgive our sins, can turn wafers and wine into the body and blood of Christ. Priests always hold an exalted position, and when they have any sexual involvement with parishioners, it is always wrong and hurtful.
There is an inherent power imbalance between clergy and church members. It is much like a doctor-patient or therapist-client relationship, where any sexual contact is expressly forbidden. It's Archhbishop John Nienstedt's duty to help congregants understand this.
Nienstedt should now beg anyone who may have seen, suspected or suffered misconduct by Fr. Fr. Huberty to contact law enforcement, using parish bulletins, church websites and pulpit announcements. This isn’t rocket science. It’s common sense and common decency. Why, after decades of horrific clergy sexual abuse and misconduct by priests and continuing cover ups by bishops, do we have to prod Catholic officials to do even the most simple outreach to others who may be suffering in shame, silence and self-blame?
We seriously doubt this this courageous woman is the only parishioner that Fr. Huberty exploited. So it may be possible for Fr. Reinhart to be criminally prosecuted again for other crimes. If not, it’s possible that other Catholic employees might be prosecuted on charges of witness tampering, destruction of evidence, intimidation of victims, obstruction of justice, etc. Is this what Nienstedt fears? Is this why he’s not urging others who were hurt by Fr. Huberty to call police?
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We were founded in 1988 and have 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)
Contact - David Clohessy, 314-566-9790, [email protected], Frank Meuers of Plymouth 952-334-5180, [email protected], Barbara Dorris 314-503-0003, [email protected], Barbara Blaine 312-399-4747, [email protected]