ST. LOUIS, Mo. – Documents released Monday revealed that the current archbishop of St. Louis had testified that he was unsure if a priest having sex with a child was a crime back when he was auxiliary bishop in the Twin Cities.
The comments by Archbishop Robert Carlson came in a deposition taken last month but released on Monday.
It’s all part of a lawsuit against a Minnesota priest. Carlson is not a party to the lawsuit, but said under oath that he couldn’t recall details about how he handled allegations of abuse against the priest in question.
Carlson served as chancellor of the twin cities archdiocese in the 1980’s.
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During the deposition a questioner had asked Carlson if he knew it was a crime for an adult to engage in sex with a child.
Carlson replied, “I’m not sure whether I knew it was a crime or not. I understand today it’s a crime.”
The archbishop also said he could not remember when he first discerned that is was a crime.
Carlson also admitted that he never went to authorities after the priest in question told him in 1984 that he engaged in criminal sexual contact with a minor.
Despite criticism, attorney Art Margulis said a defense attorney could try to make sense of Carlson’s deposition by saying he truly didn’t know what constitutes a crime.
“It’s quite possible that the archbishop may not have known all of the facts concerning what’s been described as a sexual assault,” Margulis said.
The Archdiocese of St. Louis released a statement Monday.
It says the archbishop did make it clear in the deposition that he knows child sex abuse is a crime today.
Carlson also goes on in the deposition to call pedophilia an “egregious offense.”