Attorney: Archbishop John Nienstedt walked out of deposition before completed

Categories: Crime, Religion
catholicguilt_cover.jpg
Artwork by Martin Ontiveros for our March 19 cover story
The law firm of Jeff Anderson deposed Archbishop John Nienstedt on Wednesday, marking the first time the head holy man has been forced to answer questions about sexual abuse allegations during his six-year reign over the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

Anderson's firm is tight-lipped about what was discussed during a four-hour window allotted by the court, but was bothered -- if not surprised -- by what it considers to be attempts by Nienstedt's attorneys to subvert the interrogation. Although his time had ended, Nienstedt apparently walked out of the room when pressed about whether he would turn over all the information he possessed on abusive priests to local cops and prosecutors.

See also:
How Patrick Wall became the Catholic church's worst nightmare


"We took the deposition," says Mike Finnegan, an attorney who questioned the archbishop alongside Anderson. "But we don't consider it complete."

Finnegan's beef is that Nienstedt's attorneys wasted an excessive amount of time on legal objections that slowed down the pace and shortened the overall number of questions. What's more, Finnegan says, the archdiocese failed to turn over a majority of its case files before the deposition, meaning he and Anderson couldn't ask about what they didn't know.

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Archbishop John Nienstedt
They plan to take their complaints to the same Ramsey County judge who, in February, ordered Nienstedt and former Vicar General Kevin McDonough to testify under oath. Wednesday's interrogation was in preparation for a September trial during which Anderson will assert that the archdiocese poses a "public nuisance" threat to the Twin Cities by routinely sheltering dangerous clerics and failing to warn parishioners.

Also part of the recent court order, the archdiocese has begun handing over thousands of pages worth of documents related to the internal investigations of accused priests. Although those files remain private, church officials highlighted some of the details Monday on its website.

The biggest revelation: a man who said he had been abused by Father Paul Palmitessa as a boy in 1982 killed his wife and committed suicide in 1999. The archdiocese claims it did not know of Palmitessa's alleged crime until 1990, two years after the priest had "changed his residence" and joined another diocese in California. He was quickly taken out of ministry the same year.

When asked about Nienstedt's supposed walk-out, Jim Accurso, a spokesman for the archdiocese, responded that he knew nothing about it. A statement released later in the day did not address the complaints of Anderson's firm, but summed up the archbishop's deposition in this way:
He expressed regret for mistakes that were made in the past with how the archdiocese responded to allegations of sexual abuse against clergy. He assumed responsibility for mistakes that have been made since he became archbishop of the archdiocese in 2008.
McDonough, who investigated sexual abuse allegations as far back as the 1980s, is scheduled to be deposed on April 16. The transcripts and video of Nienstedt's deposition are being withheld at the moment.

-- Follow Jesse Marx on Twitter @marxjesse or send tips to jmarx@citypages.com
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43 comments
Thang Le
Thang Le

It does say in the article that his deposition time ended, and it said he walked out, not running or anything. Maybe he didn't want the attorneys to bill on extra time, plus he probably had other things going on

SidVicious
SidVicious

The only reason to try and hide anything, walk out on a deposition, and try to portray themselves as the real victims is that Nienstadt and the catholic church are guilty, and they know it. If they had nothing to hide, they'd be opening everything they have to try and clear their names.


Anyone who still attends a catholic church condones the church's actions. They're pedophiles by proxy.


The catholic church is pure evil.

Dog Gone
Dog Gone topcommenter

Taking responsibility means cooperating fully - not doing this kind of obstructing, not just saying a very ambiguous "sorry" when what you mean is "too bad for you".

If the archdiocese and Nienstedt are not going to cooperate fully in providing documents and/or in cooperating with court ordered questioning, then Nienstedt for his own actions and for his directions to his subordinates, which include his legal representatives, should spend some time behind bars on contempt charges.

And until he is more cooperative and forth-coming, I would hope his potential donors decide to starve this corrupt organizational beast into submission.

Actions speak louder than words, and these actions are the equivalent of flipping the middle finger to those who were abused, and to those who care for them, and to those who are devout followers of the faith.  They are NOT the actions of a good shepherd of the flock, but of a toady who is concerned only with guarding the pocketbook of the RC, and damn the safety of both adults and children from the predatory conduct of the church -- including the predatory conduct of Nienstedt in going after gays instead of more rigorously dealing with the problem.

Condoning this action by the pedophile and other predatory priests is to be part of it.  There are clear choices, and Nienstedt is making the wrong one.


To hell with him.

swmnguy
swmnguy topcommenter

Obviously the Archdiocese has instructed its attorneys that it wants to continue to obstruct the investigation.  They clearly have a great deal to hide, and will use any trick to continue to hide it.  In this instance, they stipulate a time limit on the deposition, and then waste as much time as they possibly can, intentionally do not provide the agreed-upon documents, and then leave saying, "Time's Up."

This is of course absolutely terrible long-term strategy.  But it's an attractive strategy to people who know they personally have a great deal to hide.  I would imagine there's a lot of pleading from St. Paul to Rome, asking Pope Francis to find a cushy job for Archbishop Nienstedt someplace without extradition treaties to the USA.  It will be interesting to see how Pope Francis responds.

digitaldeath
digitaldeath

good and evil are human constructs...


One pork-chop, two hungry families. Who gets the pork-chop?
One family invents the term "enemy" to justify why they deserve to eat the pork-chop while letting the other die from hunger.



digitaldeath
digitaldeath

if you go to church or support church you are stupid

TBone
TBone

Should we not be asking; who decided the credibility of the accusations? If the answer is "The Church", we all have missed a crucial chapter in this story. If even 1 incident was credible and "The Church" decided it was not, there is some serious issues here.

TBone
TBone

Should we not be asking; who decided the credibility of the accusations? If the answer is "The Church", we all have missed a crucial chapter in this story. If even 1 incident was credible and "The Church" decided it was not, there is some serious issues here.

PWT55
PWT55

Total and complete open honesty is what the churches need to provide. There is no point in trying to hide anything anymore. All they are doing with this kind of behavior is creating more suspicion and distrust.

MicheleBachmann
MicheleBachmann topcommenter

Not a surprise Nienstedt is a liar and a fraud.  He protected pedophiles before, not a surprise he is still doing it.  Anyone that gives money to the Catholic Church while he is still an employee is enabling pedophiles.  Sick.  Some moral compass the Catholic Church provides.  

_Joe_
_Joe_

I wonder what he's hiding that's worse than what everyone now assumes he's hiding...

misterrosewater
misterrosewater

@SidVicious  So if something happens to a child at an elementary school in west Fargo, do you pull your child out of public school in St. Paul?  Because anyone who has a child in public school condones the school's actions.

MicheleBachmann
MicheleBachmann topcommenter

@swmnguy  Yeah, I've liked the new Pope so far but this kind of issue is a good way to see if he is for real or his talk of change is just superficial.  

misterrosewater
misterrosewater

@digitaldeath  Homo sapiens, along with most of the rest of the animal kingdom, engage in documented and observed altruistic behavior.  It's a capacity that has evolved with us as a species.  Who gets the pork chop?  Sometimes the family shares it with the other one.  


I don't think you watched enough Mr. Rogers Neighborhood as a kid.  It's still in syndication.

TBone
TBone

Based on the stupidity of your comment and using your own logic, you then go to and support church?

misterrosewater
misterrosewater

@MicheleBachmann  The Catholic Church is more than what these creeps represent.  It's made up of real people like you and me, and to indict the "church" on the part of abusive priests and corrupt leadership is to invalidate the very real faith of heart of the real members of the church.

SidVicious
SidVicious

 @misterrosewater There's a huge difference, misterrosewater. In the public school systems, when an abuser is found out, they are fired immediately and the district works actively with law enforcement to see the abuser is prosecuted. The catholic church has systemically and actively worked to COVER UP all the abuse that has happened, for 70 years or more. We know this. Nienstadt, by his actions, has shown that he has actively participated in covering up abuse within the church. He's guilty, he knows it, and he knows he'll not last long in prison. The reason the church as a whole works to cover up abuse is that they know it's systemic throughout the entire organization. They know they're all guilty, and they know none of them will last long in prison. They prefer diddling children, not being diddled themselves. Any catholic church goer is who is not actively keeping their head in the sand all know this, and to actively support an organization that is full of known pedophiles and their protectors, and works to cover up and protect pedophiles, is to support continued pedophilia. The public school systems work to end it, the catholic church and its members work to support it. 

digitaldeath
digitaldeath

@misterrosewater  hmm ya i just saw a thing about altruistic plants. cool. 


all animals including homo sapiens also engage in sadistic and "evil" behavior


point being there is no absolute good when it comes to humans



digitaldeath
digitaldeath

@TBone  well im not so stupid as that i give all my money to charlatans. it would be stupid for me to believe and have faith in lies about men being 900 yrs old or some guy dying and coming back from the dead. 


pathetic nonsense


you wasting your time responding to my attacks on religion show how stupid you are


you're a true believer and thats laughable

MicheleBachmann
MicheleBachmann topcommenter

@misterrosewater  Why would you bother trying to save an organization that failed so completely on a basic test of morals?  This piece of human garbage is still protecting pedophiles.     It would be a lot easier taking what you say seriously if Catholics would actually do something to punish people like Nienstedt.   So far all Catholics seem to do is attack Jeff Anderson and make excuses.  Joe Soucheray dedicates time on his show defending Nienstedt.  He accused the molested kids of making it up.  Maybe Catholics should care more about abused kids.  

misterrosewater
misterrosewater

@SidVicious  What would you suggest the average Catholic do, then?  When the faith is inexorably entwined in your life, where do you go?

misterrosewater
misterrosewater

@digitaldeath @MicheleBachmann  This isn't some organization like the Kiwanis or the Lions, where if your leadership is guilty of horrible acts you can leave with little moral qualms.  No, this is faith.  It's something that one has taken deep into one's personality, one's life, one's family.  To be confronted with atrocities like pedophilia on the part of priests and hiding criminals on the part of cardinals, when one's own church has never had any sort of incident, is not so easily answered by leaving the faith.  So the archdiocese is guilty of sheltering horrible criminals and covering up pedophilia.  Well, damn them.  But does that mean that the common parishioner should be punished by being expected to vacate their own premises?  


Trying to explain faith to the faithless is like trying to explain faithlessness to the faithful.  


Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's, and render unto God what is God's.  Let Nienstedt and his cadre of predator priests hang in a court of law, and let the wound of child victimization-which affects all Catholics-hopefully move towards being healed. 

misterrosewater
misterrosewater

@MicheleBachmann  Again with the generalizations.  Soucheray does not echo the sentiments of Catholics en masse, he echoes the sentiments of Joe Soucheray.  

digitaldeath
digitaldeath

@misterrosewater those people are directly financing the horrible acts. They are culpable and are condoning these acts by continuing to worship, believe, and congregate.


i cant believe you dont get this. They are perpetuating an institution based on lies, violence, shame, and stealing. 


they continue to listen and believe. ya its sad cause they are so dumb and cannot see they are being misled and defrauded. 


if you dont renounce it and berate something so criminal, you are condoning it and justifying it.

misterrosewater
misterrosewater

@digitaldeath The only people I "defended" were those who just go to church looking for something, like we all do, and are not culpable in the deplorable acts of church leadership.  The fight they face as they try to make sense of a litany of horrible acts perpetrated by those they placed faith in is one deserving of at least some degree of consolation and respect, not callous mocking scorn from the cheap seats.

digitaldeath
digitaldeath

@misterrosewater dude you are the one defending the church, the lies, all that shit


wake the fuck up


religion is a ruse, always has been 


talking about it is pointless as it is all made up nonsense!


why must i provide empirical evidence for something erroneous as christianity?


why are you defending child molesters and charlatans? that is the only question that matters

misterrosewater
misterrosewater

@digitaldeath For somebody who berates religion using a lot of empirical evidence or a lack thereof, you sure seem to be OK with a lack of that very item when going after me.


We only see what we believe, I guess.  Cheers.

digitaldeath
digitaldeath

@misterrosewater ya i guess lies can be valuable to those who lie


based on your responses, you pray to god and attend church


if you didnt you wouldnt have responded to me and wouldnt have called me scared


how does me not accepting lies make me scared?

misterrosewater
misterrosewater

@digitaldeath I think you are making a lot of assumptions about me that you would find incorrect.  Because I understand and can appreciate the value of religion and faith for somebody doesn't necessarily mean I participate or believe in either one.  

digitaldeath
digitaldeath

@misterrosewater  please explain how churches to leech money of uneducated poor people


then please explain how humans came to be and also how dinosaurs fit in


and what about science?

digitaldeath
digitaldeath

@misterrosewater  LOL LOL 


i am scared because i dont need a book filled with lies and homos taking my money and touching my kids?


what the fuck is wrong with you... you know the entire story of your beloved jesus is stolen from ancient egypt!


i went to catholic HS and college


i am unbaptized as is my father


you are the one who is scared and needs comfort from foolish parishioners just to get through the day

misterrosewater
misterrosewater

@digitaldeath  and you're scared.  You're scared to see that maybe, just maybe, your little black devil horn disinformation book that you got at hot topic is maybe brainwashing YOU into believing whatever it is they sell to keep themselves making money.  And at the end of the day, you get squat.  Enjoy your day and watch the sun set on your vacuous existence.

digitaldeath
digitaldeath

@misterrosewater  ya thats all fine and good, doesnt change the fact that its a money racket using stolen stories to persuade dumb people


churches exist to make money


you have been conditioned 

misterrosewater
misterrosewater

@digitaldeath I challenge you to go to a small country church, like the South Lake Johanna Lutheran Church, or the Sunburg Lutheran Church, or St Joseph's Catholic Church, and see how "stupid" the people are.  A group of humble unassuming people would gladly welcome you to their yearly Lutefisk feed following Wednesday service, and regardless of whether they believe in a "lie" or not, I'm pretty sure their belief has sustained them through tough times.  

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