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St. Paul archdiocese did not disclose porn found on priest's computer

October 09, 2013

Officials in the Archdiocese of St. Paul, Minnesota, were aware of pornographic files discovered on the computer of a priest, but took no action for several years, Minnesota Public Radio has reported.

In 2004, an internal investigation by the archdiocese found pornographic images on the computer of Father Jonathan Shelley, a priest who had been accused of inappropriate contact with young men. The archdiocese did not take disciplinary action under the terms of US bishops’ sex-abuse policy, apparently because the original investigation determined that the images were of adults. But an investigator concluded that some of the images, involving young males, were “borderline illegal.”

When he learned of the pornographic files, Archbishop John Nienstedt of St. Paul, Minnesota, apparently drafted a letter to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, saying that he could not explain why the discovery had not been reported to the Vatican and to local law-enforcement officials. The archbishop questioned whether the failure to notify police could “expose the archdiocese, as well as myself, to criminal prosecution.”

The images on Father Shelley’s computer came to light before Archbishop Nienstadt arrived in St. Paul in 2007 as a coadjutor to Archbishop Harry Flynn. Archbishop Flynn, who retired in 2008 on his 75th birthday, had been chairman of the US bishops’ ad hoc committee on sexual abuse.


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