Choi: No grand jury in archdiocese probe

Ramsey County Attorney John Choi
Ramsey County Attorney John Choi praised the archdiocese in 2012 for their handling of the Wehmeyer case.
Alex Kolyer for MPR/File 2012

Ramsey County Attorney John Choi reaffirmed his determination Wednesday not to convene a grand jury while police are still investigating allegations of child abuse in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

"I have to make some tough calls, and I believe in a certain way to get to a conclusion," he said on The Daily Circuit. "An investigative grand jury at this moment, when there's an active police investigation going on, would be really inappropriate and an abuse of my power.

"Let's let the police investigation come to some completion, and then they can present information to us, and we can make appropriate decisions based upon that."

Choi praised St. Paul Police Chief Tom Smith for going public Tuesday with his complaints about the archdiocese's lack of cooperation in the police probe. Smith said his investigators had been denied access to people they want to interview, except through their lawyers.

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Choi said he hoped Smith's press conference would produce results.

"I'm glad he did speak out," Choi said. "I think what he did yesterday will serve a good public interest," he said, adding that investigators will "hopefully gain some cooperation from the archdiocese."

"They're basically going to allow facts to lead the way," he said. "They're going to pursue justice without fear or favor, and I think we need to have a little patience with respect to the investigation."

He emphasized that he couldn't allow the process to be hurried by media reports. "I really believe fundamentally that it is wrong for a prosecution office to convene an investigative grand jury just because there are media reports about certain things that are out there," he said. "I think it should be informed by trained police investigators who are working on this."