MINNEAPOLIS, June 5 (UPI) -- Prosecutors in Minnesota filed criminal charges against the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis for allegedly failing to protect children from a sexually abusive priest.
The Ramsey County Attorney's office filed the charges and an accompanying civil petition Friday.
"Today we are alleging a disturbing institutional and systemic pattern of behavior committed by the highest levels of leadership of the archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis over the course of decades," Ramsey County Attorney John Choi said.
The charges stem from the case of former priest Curtis Wehmeyer, 50, who is in prison for sexually abusing two boys while he served at Blessed Sacrament Church in St. Paul. He was also convicted of possessing child pornography and faces sex crimes charges in Wisconsin.
"By filing criminal charges and taking civil action, we are holding the archdiocese accountable for its failure to responsibly and meaningfully respond to numerous and repeated reports of troubling conduct by Curtis Wehmeyer," Choi said.
The civil case comes two years after Minnesota lawmakers passed the Child Victims Act, which, for a period of three years from its passage, allows sexual assault civil lawsuits to be filed even if they're beyond the statute of limitations. David Clohessy, director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, credited the legislation for Friday's civil lawsuit.
"The Legislature," he told The New York Times, "opened the biggest window ever -- three years -- which has brought forward dozens and dozens of victims who've not just filed suits but also made police reports."