Former Archbishop John Neinstedt is “dumbfounded” by allegations that he frequented gay clubs, used ” poppers,” and made sexual advances on men.
Neinstedt has called homosexuality “evil” in the past, and thinks equal marriage laws are a Satanic “man-made experiment” that would harm children.
The Star Tribune reports that a statement by Nienstedt — the first he’s made since resigning amid criminal and civil charges alleging he failed “to protect children” — expresses exasperation.
“It pains me deeply that my good name and reputation have been put into question by allegations that are entirely false and based wholly on rumor, hearsay, or innuendo,” he told the paper.
In one affidavit, a priest in Michigan claims he saw Neinstedt at gay nightclub The Happy Tap.
“He appeared to wave me off as I was coming,” the priest claims, “and I backed off because I did not want to impose on him.”
Another affidavit, also from a Michigan priest, insists Nienstedt pulled up to his car in the 1980s and asked the priest if he happened to have any “poppers,” an inhalant often used during sex. Allegedly, Neinstedt changed the subject when he recognized the priest as a former student.
Another affidavit, this one from James Heathcott, a former seminarian at Detroit’s Sacred Heart Seminary, says he was expelled after refusing Nienstedt’s invitation to head to a ski chalet for a private weekend retreat.
A 2014 letter from a former student that clams Nienstedt “touched his buttocks” after they had dinner together. Joseph Rangitsch says he protested the advances, but Nienstedt could “make things unpleasant for you very quickly.”
Nienstedt, who once refused holy communion to 25 students because they were wearing rainbow buttons, denies each of these claims.
He insists he’s never “abused any minor, had a sexual relationship with any individual, or committed any crime.”
He also claims he’s never visited a gay nightclub or tried “poppers.”
He admits to driving by the park in question on a regular basis because: “I had to drive through the park to get to other destinations within the city of Detroit.”
Nienstedt suspects that “certain groups” started the rumors following “difficult decisions” he’s made, such as “ending the gay community’s use of a Catholic church for liturgies.” He also led an unsuccessful campaign to amend the Minnesota Constitution to ban gay marriage.
A court hearing is set for August 25.