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Report: Former Twin Cities archbishop tried to limit probe into sexual misconduct

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The attorneys had wanted to know whether Nienstedt had a personal relationship with Wehmeyer, and whether that influenced his decision to keep Wehmeyer in ministry despite knowing about his past misconduct. Nienstedt told MPR in 2014 he did not have a sexually inappropriate relationship with Wehmeyer.

Wehmeyer told the investigators he couldn’t understand why Nienstedt wanted to spend time with him or why he kept him in ministry. He said Nienstedt made him uncomfortable and that he wasn’t interested in Nienstedt.

Ex-seminarian James Heathcott, who lives in Oregon, told MPR he enrolled at a Detroit seminary in 1987 when he was 18. Nienstedt became rector a year later, and the seminary’s tone immediately changed, he said.

According to the affidavit, Nienstedt asked Heathcott: “Have you explored your sexuality?” and “Do you think you have homosexual tendencies?”

Heathcott also said Nienstedt later invited him on a ski trip at a “private chalet.” Heathcott said declined and told Nienstedt that the invitation appeared to contradict his own statements to seminarians about the importance of boundaries. He said Nienstedt told him a few days later to pack his belongings and leave.

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“I consider Nienstedt’s interactions with me to be a kind of grooming … I believe he denied me the chance to continue exploring my calling to the priesthood to its fruition,” he said in the affidavit.

The archdiocese, which filed for bankruptcy in January, hasn’t said what it paid Greene Espel. MPR, citing people with direct knowledge, put the cost at several hundred thousand dollars. The firm wouldn’t comment either. The archdiocese paid the second firm, Wold Morrison, nearly $139,000 between October and January, but the filing didn’t say if it made any payments to either firm earlier.

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