No charges to be filed against Archbishop Nienstedt

ST. PAUL, Minn. - The Ramsey County Attorney's Office has declined to file charges against Archbishop John Nienstedt in connection to an alleged groping incident.

Police conducted an extensive investigation surrounding an allegation that Nienstedt inappropriately touched a boy during a photo session at a confirmation ceremony at the Cathedral of St. Paul on May 5, 2009.

On Tuesday, the Ramsey County Attorney's Office concluded there was insufficient evidence to prosecute Nienstedt.

In the investigation, the boy told police that Nienstedt moved his hand down his back and to his buttocks. He said that he thought it was "creepy," but he said he did not feel violated.The boy told police that he was concerned about the attention the incident was receiving and he did not believe it was significant.

The picture showed that Nienstedt had his hand on the boy's shoulder, but investigators said that nobody witnessed any inappropriate touching.

Prosecutors said it was unlikely that Nienstedt would pick that moment to sexually touch a random boy in front of other clergy members and confirmands and their families.

Prosecutors also acknowledged that in such a setting a touch on the buttocks could have been in a "... thoughtless, unintentional or accidental manner ..."

As a result of the Tuesday's announcement, the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis released a statement saying that Nienstedt will resume all of his public ministry duties.

"I am thankful to the Saint Paul Police for their thorough investigation, as well as to the Ramsey County Attorney's office for their professional work regarding this matter," Nienstedt said in a statement. "I look forward to returning to public ministry during this Lenten season, especially during Holy Week and the great feast of Easter.

Nienstedt said that he remains committed to the ongoing work needed to provide safe environments for all children and youth.

"I continue to offer my prayers for all victims, their families and their communities, as well as to all who have been harmed by clergy sexual abuse. I once again offer my apology to all who have been affected by these terrible offenses," he said in a statement.


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