The other high ranking Twin Cities archdiocesan woman

Both are smart female Catholic lawyers who became part of Archbishop John Nienstedt’s inner circle and enjoyed his ear and his trust.

One of them, Jennifer Haselberger, became part of the solution.

The other, Greta Sawyer, remains part of the problem.

Haselberger’s story is widely known.  She’s a courageous whistleblower. Here’s a recent profile of her:

Sawyer is the archdiocesan victims’ assistance director.

Last month, we said that Sawyer may have broken the law, because she “recorded an interview with the (alleged victim of Fr. Wehmeyer) before anyone who worked for the police had talked to him.”

Now, however, Sawyer’s accused again of questionable actions in another clergy sex case, this one involving Fr. Michael Keating.

Here’s what happened to a girl whose family reported Fr. Keating’s child sex crimes to the archdiocese in 2006, according to Minnesota Public Radio:

“She was assigned an advocate named Greta Sawyer, from the archdiocese's advocacy and victim assistance office, to guide her through the church's process for handling allegations of sexual abuse.

Before the case went before the clergy review board, Sawyer and other church officials asked her to tell her story over and over again, she said. At first, she agreed, but it soon became overwhelming, she said.

She decided to make video for the archdiocese so she wouldn't have to keep telling her story.

At a meeting in the chancery — the headquarters of the archdiocese — in June 2006, she said, Keating watched the video with her family, Flynn, McDonough, Eisenzimmer and Sawyer, she said.

"I'm not sure what the point of the meeting was," she said.

Sawyer, the victims' advocate, told her that the clergy review board would investigate her claims and determine whether she had been abused. The woman, then in her early 20s, was called to testify before the board. Sawyer allowed her to bring one family member for support.

The review board included at least one priest, a psychologist, and an architect, among others, she said. It didn't make sense, she thought.

Board members lobbed questions as though it were a game of pinball, she said.

No detail escaped scrutiny. Someone asked whether Keating's penis was erect when he touched her. "I was like, does it matter?" she said.

She left the review board meeting with a familiar, terrible ache. "I felt like I was traumatized again by that," she said. "I just felt numb."

A few months later, the clergy review board reached its conclusion. Keating didn't do it.

There’s so much wrong with this it’s hard to know where to begin. But one sentence leaps out at me:

At a meeting in the chancery, she said, Keating watched the video (of her describing her abuse) with her family, Flynn, McDonough, Eisenzimmer and Sawyer, she said.

What’s a purported “victim’s advocate” like Sawyer doing putting an alleged victim in the same room with her alleged predator? What an inappropriate and hurtful move.

I actually looked up the word "advocate" in the dictionary. Here's what it says:

--one that pleads the cause of another; specifically :  one that pleads the cause of another before a tribunal or judicial court

--one that defends or maintains a cause or proposal

--one that supports or promotes the interests of another

After reading the definition this word, and the account of Sawyer’s behavior, you have to ask “Who she is advocating for – the diocese or the victims?”

It’s always risky making predictions.  But here’s one prediction I’m very comfortable making: History will look kindly on Jennifer Haselberger. And history will not look kindly on Greta Sawyer.

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  • David Gallagher
    commented 2013-10-17 15:40:48 -0500
    I’m sure glad they didn’t do anything illegal, like tamper with a witness to a crime.

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