ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis says it continues to have "zero tolerance for sexual abuse."
Officials released that statement in the wake of a rocky week, during which Father Peter Laird resigned as Vicar General and a police report came to light that suggested church leaders may have looked the other way when it came to a local priest accused of having child pornography.
Also this week, KARE 11's media partner -- Minnesota Public Radio News -- aired a second story in their investigation into the archdiocese. The MPR investigation is based, in part, on an exclusive interview with a former top canon lawyer for the archdiocese, Jennifer Haselberger.
"I think what has been so important is that she was a senior official, and she was in charge of the records department. And then she also is a canon lawyer, so she brings an expertise to the story at a level of decision making that's unusual in a story about the Roman Catholic Church," said Madeleine Baran, an MPR Reporter.
According to a St. Paul police report and the MPR investigation, church leaders failed to immediately respond to a priest who was believed to have child pornography.
The attorney for that priest, Paul Engh, said on Friday that "there is no evidence that (his client) possessed child pornography. And he didn't."
St. Paul police also closed the case on Wednesday, citing insufficient evidence. The report states the investigating officer was told the computer was "destroyed many years ago."
But late Friday afternoon, Washington County Attorney Pete Orput said he would ask that investigators look into the activities and history of the priest -- who had served several parishes in the county -- to see if any crimes had occurred.
A prominent local attorney said this case and another involving the now-convicted Rev. Curtis Wehmeyer are examples of why Archbishop John Nienstedt should both resign and be prosecuted.
"We're doing what we can to protect kids in the future because in our view, Archbishop Nienstedt is not. And he's making conscious choices to protect himself, the reputation and top officials who are committing crimes as we speak," said Attorney Jeff Anderson.
"And it is our view that the exposure of what they're doing and the development of evidence will lead to a criminal prosecution that will put an end to this sordid and serious cover up."
A spokesman for the Archdiocese told KARE 11 that the decision for Laird to resign was "unexpected and his alone."
In a statement, Laird himself said, "I am hopeful my decision to step aside at this time, along with the formation of a new task force, can help repair the trust of many, especially the victims of abuse."
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