Metro Catholic Priest Charged with Sexual Abuse

ABC Eyewitness News 5, Minnesota/February 17, 2011

A Catholic priest is charged with criminal sexual conduct for having sex with one of his parishioners.

Forty-six-year-old Christopher Wenthe is accused of having repeated sexual contact with the woman from late 2003 to 2005 while he was a priest at Nativity Catholic Church in St. Paul. The alleged victim told authorities she worked closely with Wenthe when she converted to the Catholic faith.

According to a criminal complaint, Wenthe admitted to the sexual contact in an interview with authorities, saying he believed he was acting as a friend, not as a priest.

In a statement, the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis said the victim reported the contact to church authorities in the fall of 2005, but chose not to report it to police. Wenthe's case was later reviewed by an independent Clergy Review Board, which recommended he be allowed to return to active ministry with certain conditions and restrictions.

The Archdiocese says the incident has been made known to subsequent parish trustees, and no complaints have been made about Wenthe in the past five years.

Wenthe is listed as the pastor of the churches of St. Joseph and St. Peter in Delano on the churches' website. He was arrested Thursday.

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