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.