St. Louis Archbishop Says He Didn’t Know It Was Illegal For Priests To Have Sex With Kids

“I’m not sure whether I knew it was a crime or not,” said St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson, who is part of a lawsuit accusing more than 100 priests and church employees of sex abuse. “I understand today it’s a crime.”

An archbishop from St. Louis testified last month that he “wasn’t sure” if he knew it was illegal for priests to have sex with children.

Robert Carlson, now a 69-year-old archbishop in St. Louis but formerly an auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, gave a deposition last month for a lawsuit that claims the Minnesota Archdiocese and the Diocese of Winona caused a “public nuisance” by not disclosing information on abusive priests, the MPR news first reported.

Carlson additionally faces a clergy abuse lawsuit as part of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, where more than 100 priests and church employees have been accused of sexual abuse, the St. Louis Dispatch reports. Carlson has served as archbishop there since 2009.

During the deposition last month, attorney Jeff Anderson asked Carlson if he knew it was a crime for an adult to engage in sexual acts with a child.

3. “I’m not sure whether I knew it was a crime or not,” Carlson replied. “I understand today it’s a crime.”

But documents released Monday by Anderson seem to show that Carlson knew sex abuse was a crime.

In a 1984 letter to the archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis, John Roach, Carlson discussed one sex abuse victim and the statute of limitations regarding that case.

Carlson admitted during the deposition that while he never reported sex abuse himself, he did encourage parents to report sex abuse to police on at least one occasion.

“I think in everything we do, once we’ve experienced it, we reflect on our actions and we ask what we can do better,” Carlson said. “I think we did a pretty good job. Obviously, based on some 25 years later, I would do it differently.”

Carlson has reportedly been involved in handling sexual abuse cases in Minnesota for 15 years.

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