In Minnesota, Archbishop John Nienstedt has taken a leave of absence after being accused of “inappropriately touching” a boy.
Nienstedt is accused of inappropriately touching an underage male on the buttocks during a photography session, according to a Dec. 17 report issued by CNN.
A statement released Tuesday afternoon by the the St. Paul and Minneapolis Archdiocese indicates the alleged sexual abuse occurred in 2009 during a photography session following a confirmation ceremony.
Before the explosive allegations Nienstedt was already under fire for failing to take action against priests suspected of abuse. For much of this year Nienstedt has been on the defensive over reports — contained in church documents leaked by a whistleblower who worked for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis — that he shielded and even promoted priests accused of sex abuse and possessing child pornography.
The allegation of child sexual abuse, which Nienstedt strongly denied, was brought to police by a mandated reporter within the church and prompted him to step aside from his public ministry during a police investigation, the archdiocese said in a statement.
The archdiocese said church officials, including Nienstedt, “stand ready to cooperate fully with the St. Paul police.”
However, St. Paul, Police Chief Thomas Smith said Tuesday that the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis had failed to cooperate with ongoing investigations into alleged sexual abuse by clergy members.