MN- Priest will NOT be charged with child porn

For immediate release Wednesday, January 29 2014

Statement by Barbara Dorris, SNAP Outreach Director, 314-862-7688 [email protected]

We are saddened by the fact that at this time the Washington County Attorney has decided not to pursue charges against Fr. Jonathan Shelley. We hope someday he will and that in the meantime other police and prosecutors will continue investigating Fr. Shelley.

We suspect that evidence was withheld or destroyed.

Now more than ever it is important for anyone with knowledge of Fr. Shelley’s crimes or misdeeds to contact law enforcement. Violent child sexual images - or as it is commonly called, child porn - cause great harm to the kids involved. 

We hope that Archbishop John Nienstedt will do now what he should have done long ago - visit all the parishes where Fr. Shelley worked and beg anyone who was harmed by him to come forward, call police, and begin to heal.

We stand by what we said last October:

“There is no record of anyone contacting police. (Archbishop Harry) Flynn allowed (Fr. Jonathan) Shelley to return to ministry.” Those two damning sentences are from the latest disturbing Minnesota Public Radio report outlining the secretive, irresponsible and likely illegal way Twin Cities Catholic officials hid thousands of pornographic pictures on Fr. Jonathan Shelley’s computer.

Fr. Shelley’s computers should have been given to law enforcement at the first hint of sexual impropriety. But MPR reports that in 2004 “a private investigator that found that many of the depictions" on Fr. Shelley’s computer “could be considered borderline illegal, because of the youthful-looking male image.” That too should have prompted Catholic officials to give the computers to police.

But church officials again kept near-certain crimes secret. The computers were destroyed. And now, Fr. Shelley continues to walk free, a decade later.

According to MPR, in a memo, dated Jan. 27, 2013, Fr. Kevin McDonough, who headed the church's child-safety program, told (Archbishop) Nienstedt that at least four of the images were "’quite likely of minors.’”

What arrogance to assume that because you know church theology and music and history you’re somehow an unbiased authority on child pornography.

Our duty as citizens is to call the police when we suspect crimes may have happened. It’s not to hide evidence, split hairs, parse words, and write secret memos and letters to colleagues if we suspect crimes may have happened.

The fact that “the archdiocese declined to make (Archbishop Harry) Flynn, (Archbishop John) Nienstedt and (Fr. Kevin) McDonough available for interviews speaks volumes about how desperate they are to avoid facing tough questions about their inexcusable actions.”

The Twin Cities archdiocesan hierarchy seems rotten to the core and determined to ignore secular laws and handle possible crimes “in house.” Now more than ever, it’s critical that law enforcement step up, along with every current and former Catholic employee who saw, suspected or suffered clergy sexual misdeeds, crimes or cover ups.

Contact David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, [email protected]), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747, [email protected]), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell, [email protected]), Bob Schwiderski of Wayzata (952-471-3422, [email protected])Frank Meuers of Plymouth (952-334-5180, [email protected])


Showing 3 comments

  • Jonathan Hinck
    commented 2014-01-29 19:00:16 -0600
    I think that the American media needs to face the apparent reality that the Church and the Vatican are running two opposite policies concurrently: an ostensive policy designed solely for public consumption, and a secret policy which is the policy of practice. The former is designed to fool everyone into believing that the Church has reformed itself, while the latter represents business as usual in terms of shielding and enabling offending priests—with the Vatican secretly giving the marching orders. The European media, by contrast, seem to understand this reality.
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