St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson testified that he wasn’t sure if sex with children was a crime in the 1980s, according to documents released Monday.
The St. Paul law firm Jeff Anderson & Associates released a video in which Carlson is asked whether he’d known it was a crime for adults to have sex with children. In response, Carlson said:
I’m not sure whether I knew it was a crime or not. I understand today it’s a crime.
He was questioned extensively on his involvement in child sexual abuse cases in Minnesota and gave the response of “I don’t remember” 193 different times during the 2014 deposition.
However, Jeff Anderson released documents showing that Carlson had to have been aware how serious the allegations were because he wrote to the then-Archbishop, John Roach, that the parents of one of the victims were planning to go to the police.
According to NBC News, Anderson submitted a report from a deposition in 1987 in which the now-deceased Bishop Loras Watters admitted that he told Carlson to answer “I don’t remember” if questioned in court.
The Archdiocese of St. Louis said in a statement that Carlson had given testimony “several times many years ago” about the same allegations:
The Archbishop did make clear that he knows child sex abuse is a crime today,. The question does not address the Archbishop’s moral stance on the sin of pedophilia, which has been that it is a most egregious offense.
In 2018, he expressed outrage to a report that claims Pennsylvania church leaders covered up the sexual abuse of more than 1,000 victims by more than 300 priests.
The St. Louis Archdiocese is voluntarily handing over documents to the Missouri Attorney General’s office for an investigation into the church’s handling of sexual abuse accusations against members of the clergy.