The fate of a sealed list of 33 Catholic clergy members accused of molesting minors was the subject of arguments in Ramsey County District Court on Thursday.
During a motion hearing, attorneys for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis argued that a man who says he was abused by a priest when he was a child should not be allowed to intervene in a lawsuit and release the list, which was compiled by the archdiocese and was sealed by court order. That lawsuit filed in 2006 has since been dismissed.
“In this case it’s about public safety and the right of people to know,” said Jeff Anderson, attorney for David Pususta, 62, of St. Paul.
Pususta said he was molested by a retired priest about six times at St. Mary’s Church in Waverly, Minn., and at a Boy Scout campground in southern Minnesota in the early 1960s. Pususta is pursuing the action after a change this year in state law that allows alleged victims three years to file lawsuits for sexual abuse that occurred decades before.
To be able to intervene, Pususta must meet four requirements: that the intervention is timely, that he has a legitimate interest in the proceeding, that his interest is not adequately represented by existing parties and that denying the intervention would impair his ability to pursue his interest in another forum.
Attorneys for the archdiocese said that Pususta didn’t meet the requirements. Tom Wieser, who represents the archdiocese, said in a filed memorandum that Pususta’s request, which is the third of such requests, was “nothing more than an untimely and improper motion to reconsider.”
However, Anderson wrote in a reply filed in support of the intervention that a deposition last month of the archdiocese’s former chancellor for canonical affairs Jennifer Haselberger was a recent development that showed the public safety threat of the archdiocese’s hiding of the identity of those credible accused priests.
Haselberger left her job in April after reporting the archdiocese to authorities on two separate occasions: one for child endangerment and another for failing to report child pornography, a case detailed in a police report released Thursday.
In court, Wieser described Haselberger as a “disgruntled former employee.” By inspecting the photos herself, she failed to follow protocol, Wieser said. She reported the pictures to authorities, but when the St. Paul police investigated the case, they determined that the photos didn’t constitute anything illegal.
It will be up to District Judge John Van de North to decide whether Pususta will be able to intervene.
“I think that you provide a public service by coming forward. … That takes some guts,” Van de North said to Pususta.
Nicole Norfleet • 612-673-4495