St. Louis County Attorney releases statement on Duluth Diocese sexual abuse

By KBJR News 1

January 2, 2014 Updated Jan 2, 2014 at 11:42 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- St. Louis County Attorney Mark Rubin is taking the Duluth Diocese to task for not letting authorities know, in a timely fashion, about the reported sexual abuse of a minor by a priest.

On December 31st the Diocese released the names of 17 priests they felt had been credibly accused of sexually abusing children in the district.

In an open letter to the media Rubin says the reports of sexual abuse should have been brought to the attention of the county attorney, in the jurisdiction in which the alleged abuse happened, immediately that it was known.

The County Attorney says he understands that the alleged victims may not have wanted the cases to be prosecuted but that the diocese still had a duty to let authorities know of the allegations.

Rubin says he has since spoken with three women who told him they were abused by Father Cornelius Kelleher but didn't want to have the cases go to court.

Rubin acknowledged that the Diocese took immediate action to remove Father Kelleher from active ministry and prohibited him from acting publicly as a priest after the first woman reported an alleged abuse incident to the Diocese.

Rubin writes that the Diocese said the victim asked that her privacy be respected and as a result, the allegations were not reported to law enforcement or social services.

The Diocese responded with a written statement saying, "a victim's privacy is an important concern both for the individual and for the goal of helping any other victims feel safe coming forward."

The statement also says they've worked with Mark Rubin and have come up with a mutually agreeable procedure to address such matters going forward.

Meanwhile Verne Wagner, the Northern Minnesota representative for the group known as SNAP or Survivor Network of Those Abused by Priests thanked the County Attorney for investigating the Father Kelleher allegations but asked how these priests can allegedly molest children and have it covered up by the Diocese or Bishop.

He asks the County attorney why no charges have been filed and asks that he convene a Grand Jury to investigate all the accused priests.

Elsa Robins