Updated: 01/02/2014 10:11 PM
Created: 01/02/2014 12:33 PM WDIO.com
By: Jon Ellis & Maarja Anderson
St. Louis County Attorney Mark Rubin says he cannot prosecute alleged cases of sexual abuse by clergy because the cases were reported after the statute of limitations expired and three alleged victims do not wish to pursue charges.
On Tuesday, the Catholic Diocese of Duluth released a list of priests who had been "credibly accused" of sexual abuse of a minor. The allegations stretch across the ten-county diocese from 1950 to the present. Most of the clergymen are now deceased.
In a statement issued Thursday, Rubin said the allegations were not made until the statute of limitations had expired. He said he had spoken with three women who said they were abused by Father Cornelius Kelleher, but, besides the statute of limitations issue, none wished to have the allegations turned over to law enforcement.
"The fact that these courageous women have come forward for the first time after so many years have passed exemplifies the harsh reality that sexual abuse has a life-long impact on victims. The women were afraid to tell anyone at the time the sexual abuse had occurred. Their fear was that they would not be believed and that matters would only be worse for them. These continue to be the concerns we hear from many victims similarly situated," Rubin said.
Rubin said the diocese learned of the first allegation against Father Kelleher 15 months before reporting it to law enforcement or social services. He said the diocese has acknowledged that the 15-month wait was unacceptable.
"The diocese and I have agreed it is important for a representative of the diocese to immediately advise any reporting victim of their right to contact law enforcement or social services through the Initial Intervention Unit at the time any allegation of sexual abuse by a priest is reported. If the victim has any questions about their reporting rights or the process, they should also be advised that they can contact the County Attorney's Office," Rubin said.
Rubin said other county attorneys in the region have agreed to use the same procedure.
He urged others who have suffered abuse from any clergy, educator, councilor, coach, family member, or individual to contact law enforcement or social services as soon as possible.
The Survivor Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) also released a statement regarding Rubin's release. Northern Minn. director, Verne Wagner, wrote asking Rubin to convene a grand jury and investigate the Diocese.
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