The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis hired the Greene Espel law firm in Minneapolis to investigate accusations made against Archbishop John Nienstedt of inappropriate sexual conduct.
In fact Nienstedt ordered the investigation.
The firm has been working on the investigation since early this year and has interviewed current and former archdiocese employees including Jennifer Haselberger, the former top canon lawyer for the diocese who resigned in 2013 and then blew the whistle on the way the church ignored sexual abuse allegations leveled against current and former priests.
Nienstedt has denied the current allegations that he says do not involve “minors or lay members of the faithful, and they do not implicate any kind of illegal or criminal behavior.” They also date back to a decade before he was installed as archbishop, he said.
Reports say there could be as many as 10 statements of sexual allegations against Nienstedt.
Some church officials said they were “puzzled” by Nienstedt’s decision to hire an outside law firm to investigate these claims and his decision to not step down during the investigation.
Greene Espel reportedly told church officials it had been hired to investigate and provide a report. Nienstedt plans to then deliver that report to the pope’s U.S. ambassador.
“It’s very unusual that they’d ever allow outsiders to get into their personal lives,” said Thomas Doyle, a former Vatican embassy official.