Archbishop said he didn’t know if a priest having sex with a child was a crime

ST. LOUIS — Documents released on Monday show the current archbishop of St. Louis testified in a deposition that he was unsure if a priest having sex with a child was a crime back when he was auxiliary bishop in the Twin Cities.

The comments by Archbishop Robert Carlson came in a deposition taken in May but released Monday.

It’s part of a lawsuit against a Minnesota priest. Carlson is not a party to the lawsuit, but said under oath that he couldn’t recall details about how he handled allegations of abuse against the priest.

Carlson served as Chancellor of the Twin Cities archdiocese in the 1980’s.

“I’m not sure whether I knew it was a crime or not. I understand today that it’s a crime,” he said in the deposition. (WATCH  in the video player above.)

The questioner then asks: “When did you first discern that it was a crime for a priest to engage with sex with a child?”

Carlson answered, “I don’t remember that either.”

He also said he never went to authorities after that priest admitted in 1984 that he engaged in criminal sexual contact with a minor.

Despite criticism, attorney Art Margulis says a defense attorney could try to make sense of Carlson’s deposition by saying he truly didn’t know what constitutes a crime.

“It’s quite possible that the archbishop may not have known all of the facts concerning what’s been described as a sexual assault,” Margulis said.

The archdiocese of St. Louis released a statement Monday.

It says the archbishop did make it clear in the deposition that he knows child sex abuse is a crime today.

And he also goes on in the deposition to call pedophilia an “egregious offense.”

In Kansas City, Bishop Robert Finn was accused of failing to report allegations of child pornography possession by Rev. Shawn Ratigan.
Prosecutors say the diocese discovered child pornography on Ratigan’s computer in December but didn’t turn them over to police until May.  Finn was found guilty of failure to report suspected child abuse and not guilty on another failure to report child abuse charge by Judge John Torrence in connection to the case.  He was sentenced to two years probation, which was suspended. He will also have to attend a mandated sexual abuse reporter training program, and implement an FBI sex-abuse reporting training course for clergy.

34 comments

  • squeaky wheeler

    Errrr… I thought that confession was the deal where you tell a priest bad stuff you’ve done. And this Archbishop guy didn’t think it was bad that a priest confessed/admitted some kind of sex with a kid? As a believer in the whole Catholic concept, did the Archbishop think this sex shpeel was bad and fire the priest for not remaining pure? That’s a little dicey to me.
    If the vows were forsaken, there should have been recourse.

  • DC

    This attorney should have ended with these questions: Did you know that when priests take their vows that one of those vows is chastity? And what does chastity mean?

    Suspended sentence? That tells me that children do not count in that court.

  • snapjudy

    It just doesn’t cut it anymore to claim “ignorance” especially when it comes to covering up sex crimes against children.
    It appears that Archbishop Robert J. Carlson has been caught in a lie, with a document that proves he did in fact know that child sex abuse is and was a crime. How can he be trusted to tell the truth now? He has plenty of practice in dealing with the sex abuse issue in his priestly lifetime.

    And now in the St Louis Archdiocese, we have two allegations of child sex abuse by Fr Jiang , whom Carlson is protecting, rather than taking precautions to protect innocent unsuspecting children today. This callous abuse of power has got to get stopped now. And it appears we can not count on Pope Francis to take any decisive actions to protect kids, so we urge others who may have knowledge or may have been harmed by anyone in St. Paul-Minneapolis, Sioux Falls, Saginaw or the Archdiocese of St Louis to please find the courage to come forward and contact police.
    Do not report any abuse to the church officials, they are not the proper officials to be investigating child sex crimes.

    Sex abuse thrives in secrecy and secret systems and until this gets stopped children are not safe today.
    Silence is not an option anymore, it only hurts, and by speaking up there is a chance for healing, exposing the truth, and therefore protecting others
    Judy Jones, SNAP Midwest Associate Director, USA, 636-433-2511, SNAPJudy@gmail.com
    SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

    • ars gratia artis

      Okay, everybody! SNAP needs your money and they can’t raise any if there aren’t any new accusations that they can get their noses into and on camera. So break out your checkbooks. They want to eat steak tonight!

    • Aaron Siering

      It just doesn’t cut it anymore to claim “ignorance” especially when it comes to covering up sex crimes against children.
      It appears that Archbishop Robert J. Carlson has been caught in a lie, with a document that proves he did in fact know that child sex abuse is and was a crime.

      When has it ever “cut it” for a priest not to understand what things are moral and what things are immoral? I realize that is a different question than what is legal. The point is obviously he is lying and if even if he is not then this should be a very clear indication that he is not fit to remain ordained.

      Having said that I certainly don’t endorse SNAP. You very much strike me as every bit the other side of this same coin of a problem. Children won’t be protected, and loved, until Catholics start living their faith no matter who goes to jail or who gets caught in the meantime. The problem here is that there is an Archbishop who appears to be as faithless as Judas and neither the Catholics in his Archdiocese nor the Vatican are doing anything to stop make him anathema to the community of faithful.

  • shana price

    It seems like the Catholic Church does not care about the welfare of the children that attend their churches because if they did this would not be a problem how many more children have to get molested before they put a stop to it yes I know it happens in other religions as well but it’s the Catholics you hear the most about personally I think any man or woman that molest a child should be hung

  • Ryan O

    Ah, the modern day witch hunt against Catholic priests is alive and well. Ambulance chasing lawyers like “Judy Block Jones” who coach their “clients” are always present in the comment sections.

    Do you find it unbelievable that he didn’t know it? It is unbelievable. Have you ever been in a deposition? It’s extremely stressful, and they play with your emotions. These people are coached to make a good man say what they want him to say.

    The witch hunt against the entire Church really is disheartening. These men give their lives to God, there are a few bad apples over the decades, and then the news media tries to leave low information readers with the impression that this is a widespread problem. I assure you, there are more pedophiles per capita in your children’s schools than there are priests.

    Gain some perspective. Pray for real victims. Weed out coached ‘victims’ that Judy Block Jones creates. Stop casting a net over the largest religious body in the world.

    Can you show me where in the Catholic Catechism where we practice child rape? That’s a rhetorical question, because no, you cannot.

    • Ben

      Numbskulls like you are the reason the molestations continue. You are making excuses when there are none. If all the Catholics would raise hell with the Diocese and instilled zero tolerance for this sort of thing, they would be able to weed out the molestors and end the molestations.

      • Ryan O

        No, child molesters are why molestations continue all around the globe, and in all environments where perverts exploit childrens’ trust. “Weed out the molesters.” They aren’t exactly jumping up and down telling us who they are. Not in your children or grandchildren’s school either.
        Hell has been raised. There is zero tolerance. There are training programs in place for every adult. They literally rebuild architecture in buildings to keep the money-grubbing lawyers from SNAP off their backs.
        Know of what you speak before you throw stones.

      • Ryan O

        Judy Block Jones and SNAP have literally been caught coaching. If you can’t accept the facts of reality, you certainly aren’t capable of discussing the nuances of law and society and human nature.

    • Tricia

      It’s not a witch hunt and you are beyond sick to even begin to think it is. You are more than a part of the problem. You are a nasty cancerous growth right along with the rest of the pedophiles.

      • Ryan O

        It’s a witch hunt. SNAP coaches children to say horrendous things. In fact, most cases are settled out of court because the Church doesn’t want the bad press. Low-information Catholic haters like you tend to ‘absorb’ media hit pieces into your worldview rather than study it objectively.
        Pedophiles tried to use the Church many years ago to exploit children. It’s a position of trusted authority, so the position drew in perverts. The Church doesn’t breed perverts, and we don’t celebrate or excuse perverts. We hate this exploitation more than you do, because we have to contend with the acts of evil, and additionally we have to contend with mobs of hate-filled people like you, pitchfork in hand.

      • Ryan O

        Excuse me if I approch SNAP with skepticism. They have accused many good man of false crimes in an attempt to settle for COLD HARD CASH out of court.
        Priests are capable of sin as much as any other person. There are rare cases that are true, just like in your children’s public schools.
        Understand intention and you’ll understand the situation better.

      • Estelle Church

        Ryan O, what about the Catholic Church paying all that hush money throughout the years paid out to countless victims family and they made these poor souls sign a document that they could NEVER reveal the amount of money paid out to them. Their silence was bought and Fr. Molester and Fr. Sex Predator was move to another parish to start his evil acts on other innocent young people again.
        Ryan O, “Priests are capable of sin as much as any other person. There are rare cases that are true”
        There’s your problem Ryan O, capable of sin, it’s not just a sin this is a CRIMINAL act that is a mortal sin according to the teachings of the Church.You don’t hide these priests they need to be turned over to the police/law.
        As for you saying there are rare cases well that’s not true because the Catholic Church is still hiding facts and pretending they have this clergy abuse scandal under control and people like you Ryan O believe them and take their word for it after all they wouldn’t lie right Ryan O…(Rolling my eyes)
        There are cases in public schools but they don’t move these predator evil teachers to other schools. The Catholic Church has a excellent track record in doing that thanks to those courageous survivors of abuse who came forward.

    • Estelle Church

      Ryan O….You criticize SNAP, Judy Jones & others, then all you need to do is STAY AWAY from SNAP, don’t give them your money. That goes for victims that don’t do well with SNAP go find another route for help because SNAP is not the only organization around.

      As for your rude remark about lawyers…they have a job to do and many have a family to feed just like the rest of us.
      These lawyers spend long working hours and stress goes with the territory. How do think a lawyer feels when he calls his client and finds out his client just killed himself because the poor guy couldn’t live with the nightmares anymore about what the priest did to him.

      Many priests DON’T abuse but many priests do know the inner working of the Church and keep their mouth zipped except to pray about it.
      The Roman Catholic Church is a bigger religious body than the SNAP organization. So that excuse everybody is picking on the Catholic Church is not a valid one in my opinion.

  • Jim Radburn

    But he did know that Jesus is coming back after being dead for 2000+ years, that the world is flat and was created in 6n days and that the repuke teanuts in congress are somehow going to help America.

  • Jim Radburn

    The Pope A Dope should be concerned with controlling his rapist, pedophile priests that have destroyed the lives of so many young boys all over the world. This sick, braindead religion should be banned in the U.S and elsewhere.
    His collection pot filler priests laugh all the way to the bank with the ignorant sheeps’ money that donate to them, while they rape their little boys.
    In Fact, the next time the Pope A Dope comes to the U.S., he should be arrested for running an ongoing criminal enterprise that also pays no taxes but has political views.

  • squeaky wheeler

    I would like to amend my statement to add: I don’t have an anti-Catholic agenda. I don’t believe all Catholics are bad. I do think a couple of them are [fill in word of your choice here]. I think this Archbishop fellow is among the bad lot.

  • ars gratia artis

    So how old was the “child” in Minnesota and what is the age of consent there? Notice that he didn’t say he didn’t know it was a sin. And the age is an important factor for the crime.

    • Estelle Church

      ARS GRATIA ARTIS is helping to defend this Archbishop by trying to find a loop hole about the age of the child and if he or she was able to give consent. You are a big part of the Catholic Church that keeps it sick and disordered like the other ENABLERS do. Unbelievable and yet so real and true!

  • Frank Moley (@fpmoles)

    Time to amend this story Fox4 after the truth has come out. You once again attacked the Catholic Church without actually collecting the facts. Read the deposition, his comments where about the reporting laws, not child molestation. These lies you help spread provide nothing but a soap box for the anti-Catholic bigotry in this society.

    How many of you actually understand the faith? How many of you actually can look past your own bigotry to see what you are attacking?

    • Estelle Church

      “How many of you actually understand the faith? How many of you actually can look past your own bigotry to see what you are attacking?”

      Frank stop that silly guilt trip you are trying to pass on to victims and those who support them.
      Do you honestly believe the victims who come forward its like going up against God? These predator clerics should be outed for what they have done and those who knew about these crimes also should be disciplined. Justice is needed FRANK not using the tactics of deflection, to deny and say “everyone else was doing it too” !

  • SMH

    It always seems strange to me that the media is always so quick to report on the child abuse involving the Catholic Church but never report on the abuse that has/is ongoing in “All” other denominations. There are plenty of studies and reports on the web of the statistics on child abuse in all denominations of faith and they are All as guilty as the Catholics. They just have and do a better job of sweeping it under the carpet.

    • Estelle Church

      The Catholic Church use to get that free ride in the past of only good and feel good news and even the power to control their Catholic Church scandals. Thanks to the survivors of clergy abuse, the Catholic Church just don’t get the benefit of the doubt anymore as they use too, and that’s their fault, not anyone else’s SMH..
      The truth will set you free but in the Catholic Church’s case it is slowing killing them…so to speak!

  • Ben

    Ryan O: Your comments make me think you have some skin in this game. Are you friends with these people? Do you all molest together? Do you know it is illegal to have sex with a child? I just don’t understand why you would defend the indefensible. All adults know that sex with children is illegal so why are you trying to cover for these pedophiles unless you are one of them. Birds of a feather……..

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