Listen Madeline Baran reports on how a newly charged priest was flagged for misconduct by church a decade ago
Top officials at the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis have said they didn't know about sexual misconduct by the pastor at the Church of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Maplewood until this year, but a document obtained by MPR News shows that a church official flagged the priest for sexual misconduct a decade ago.
The internal church document says that the Rev. Mark Huberty's misconduct involved women and that he remains an active priest. It does not include any other information. The archdiocese's code of conduct forbids sexual contact by priests.
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Hennepin County prosecutors charged Huberty earlier this month with criminal sexual conduct for an alleged sexual relationship with a woman under his pastoral care from January to April of this year. The investigation began in May when the woman reported the alleged sexual contact to Maplewood police. It's illegal in Minnesota for priests to have sexual contact with anyone under their pastoral care.
"The complaint was made by the woman's husband over a decade ago.," Huberty's attorney, Paul Engh, said. "When interviewed thereafter, the parishioner indicated that nothing inappropriate had occurred between her and Father Huberty. The matter was thus closed."
Huberty did not immediately return calls for comment. A spokesman for the archdiocese hasn't responded to questions about whether officials reported the past allegations to police.
Maplewood Deputy Police Chief Dave Kvam told MPR News today that police received Huberty's clergy personnel file as part of the recent investigation, and that it included information about past allegations. The police investigator assigned to the case has had limited contact with the archdiocese at the request of the prosecutor, Kvam said.
Archdiocesan officials have said they've cooperated fully with the investigation and that they immediately removed Huberty from ministry and informed parishioners.
After Huberty was charged, the archdiocese issued a statement that said it "first learned of this situation from another priest in late August and we immediately began an investigation."
By late August, the investigation had already been underway for several months. However, Maplewood Police Chief Paul Schnell said a police investigator did not contact a lawyer for the archdiocese until August.
Archdiocesan officials have not named the priest who they say informed them of the allegations in August. On Sept. 22, Huberty took a leave of absence, telling parishioners, "An accusation was recently made against me by a woman who alleges inappropriate touching, which I deny."
Editor's note: This story was updated at 1:44 p.m. to include a statement from Paul Engh, attorney for the Rev. Mark Huberty.