Hibbing priest arrested on suspicion of sexual abuse

A Catholic priest who serves at a parish in Hibbing was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of sexually abusing a teenager, according to the Diocese of Duluth and law enforcement records.

The Hibbing Police Department booked the priest into the St. Louis County Jail, where he remains pending a possible charge for second-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor between the ages of 13 and 15, according to the county jail roster.

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The priest was ordained in the Diocese of Duluth. Diocese spokesman Kyle Eller said the diocese first learned of the arrest from the police. He declined further comment.

In a statement released Wednesday, the diocese said the priest was arrested "as a result of allegations of sexual misconduct of a minor."

It continued, "While the circumstances leading to his arrest are currently unknown to us and while we believe (the priest) is entitled to the presumption of innocence, we take this development very seriously and are monitoring it closely."

The diocese said it will cooperate with law enforcement and will continue to pray for those affected by sexual abuse.

An officer who answered the phone at the Hibbing Police Department said he has been instructed not to comment on the case.

In December 2013, the Diocese of Duluth released the names of 17 priests it said had been credibly accused of child sexual abuse. The list does not include the name of the priest arrested Tuesday.

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