The St. Louis Archdiocese condemned some media portrayals of Archbishop Robert Carlson’s deposition in a Minnesota lawsuit over alleged abuse by priests, saying “inaccurate and misleading” reporting has prompted unfair criticism of him.
Carlson was deposed last month as part of a lawsuit that alleges the St. Paul-Minneapolis archdiocese created a public nuisance by keeping the names of accused priests secret. The lawsuit was filed in 2013 by a man who claims he was sexually abused by a priest in 1976 and 1977. Carlson is not a party to the lawsuit, but served for several years in Minnesota and had a role in handling claims against accused priests from 1979 through 1994.
He has drawn criticism after news reports about his deposition testimony said that he couldn’t recall how he handled allegations of sexual abuse when he was investigating claims against priests in Minnesota; that he never went to authorities about cases involving priests there; and that he wasn’t sure he was aware in the 1970s or 1980s that it was a crime for an adult to engage in sex with a child.
“I’m not sure whether I knew it was a crime or not,” Carlson said. “I understand today it’s a crime.”
That quote was taken out of context, the St. Louis archdiocese said in a statement last week. The archdiocese claims that the dialogue between the plaintiff’s attorney and Carlson focused on Carlson’s knowledge of Minnesota child abuse reporting statutes, and when clergy became mandatory reporters of abuse allegations.
As for Carlson’s inability to recall details of how he handled allegations in Minnesota, the St. Louis archdiocese noted those cases were, in some cases, three decades old.