California Governor Jerry Brown has until Sunday, October 13 to sign or veto SB 131, The California Child Victims’ Act. If he does nothing, the bill will be enacted as written. In the meantime, victims wait.
Here is why the bill’s opponents are scared: Minnesota enacted a THREE-YEAR civil window earlier this year and the revelations have been startling. They fear the same could happen in California.
Here is what we have learned in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis in just the past few weeks:
Fr. Curtis Wehmeyer
Last year, the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis won praise for quickly removing Fr. Curtis Wehmeyer when he was accused of abuse by a parishioner (he later pled guilty to 20 counts of abuse and possession of child pornography).
An investigation by Minnesota Public Radio discovered that Archdiocese officials had know about Wehmeyer’s conduct for a DECADE and did NOTHING. Of wait, they did do something: they kept Wehmeyer in ministry.
The Vicar General, the Whistleblower, and the Case of the Disappearing Banker’s Box of Child Pornography
Last week, the Vicar General of the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis resigned from his post when court documents showed that he may have hidden evidence of child pornography.
According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:
His resignation came shortly after allegations emerged in a St. Paul court that church officials knew a priest had been in possession of child pornography but continued to assign him to parish duties that brought him into contact with children. The allegations were contained in a St. Paul police report made public Thursday in Ramsey County District Court.
St. Paul attorney Jeff Anderson, a leading plaintiffs’ lawyer in pursuing cases against the archdiocese over child abuse, said the police report implies that the archdiocese destroyed evidence.
The police report says that the archdiocese seized the evidence about the child pornography and kept it in a vault. When another diocesan official, Jennifer Haselberger, discovered the evidence, Laird told her to put it back in the vault, she told police.
Haselberger, who has since resigned, brought the matter to police attention. When the police went to the vault, the evidence of child pornography that they were told would be there was missing.
The evidence is said to be in a white “Banker’s Box”
It gets worse, the Star-Tribune continues:
Haselberger also told police that she had seen a report from a private investigator, Richard Setter & Associates, which the archdiocese hired to examine the computer and its contents.
According to her, the report said that a forensic computer expert had examined the computer and found “thousands of images,” including some of a young boy performing oral sex on another male.
The police requested a copy of the computer report but were turned down by the archdiocese. As for the computer, “We were told that was destroyed,” the police report says.
Of course if was destroyed.
List? You don’t need no stinkin’ list!
Minnesota’s victims of child sex abuse, empowered by these recent revelations, now want access to information they say is vital to public safety.
St. Paul victim David Pususta wants the Archdiocese to publicly release their list of 33 priests accused of child sexual abuse. This request is not over-the-top. Even Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony posted his list of accused clerics online (and then took the list down, and then put it back up).
Lawyers for the St. Paul Archdiocese are fighting the request. Shocker!
But can you blame them? After everything we just learned, who knows what information is included on the list of 33 priests? The thought probably scares the chancery to its core.
If there has ever been a call to action to help victims of child sex abuse, Minnesota has given Jerry Brown all of the evidence he needs to sign SB 131.
You can write Governor Brown here.