Robert J. Carlson, the Roman Catholic archbishop of St. Louis, claimed during a recent court deposition in Minnesota that he couldn't remember when he first became aware that sex with a child is a crime.
According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Attorney Jeff Anderson took Carlson's deposition last month as part of a sexual abuse lawsuit against the Twin Cities Archdiocese and the Diocese of Winona, Minnesota. The unidentified plaintiff in the case alleges that they were abused by a priest in the Twin Cities archdiocese in the 1970s. Anderson deposed Carlson because the prelate served as auxiliary bishop in the Twin Cities during the 1980s, during which time he dealt with another sexual abuse allegation against that same priest.
In a short video Anderson uploaded to YouTube, the attorney begins by stating, "Archbishop, you knew it was a crime for an adult to engage in sex with a kid." Carlson equivocates: "Umm, I'm not sure whether I knew it was a crime or not. I understand today it's a crime."
It turns out Carlson couldn't remember when he learned that sexually assaulting kids was a crime. He didn't know if it was the 1970s or the 1980s, and he also claimed he couldn't recall when he learned that priestly sexual abuse was against the law.
But as the Post-Dispatch points out, the evidence shows that Carlson was lying:
In a 1984 document, for example, Carlson wrote to the then archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis, John R. Roach, about one victim of sexual abuse and mentioned that the statute of limitations for filing a claim would not expire for more than two years. He also wrote that the parents of the victim were considering reporting the incident to the police...
Later in the deposition, when asked about an incident of alleged sexual abuse of a minor by another priest in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, the Rev. Jerome Kern, Anderson asks Carlson:
"But you knew a priest touching the genitals of a kid to be a crime, did you not?," referring to what a 1987 church memo said about the alleged incident.
"Yes," Carlson replied.
In fairness, I don't think I'd be able to pin down the precise date when I learned that sexually assaulting kids is a crime either. But that's because I, like most people, am inherently repulsed by the idea of sex with children (and have been ever since I can remember being sexually aware at all) -- and because my parents taught my brothers and me at a very early age that it was very wrong and very bad for adults to touch kids' private areas. Presumably Archbishop Carlson had parents who taught him this as well.
But even if he didn't, Carlson was born in 1944, meaning that in 1970 -- the earliest year Anderson asked him about -- he turned 26 years old. While Carlson can be forgiven for not knowing his exact age when he learned that child molestation is a no-no, there's no way he wasn't aware of this by his mid-twenties.
Elsewhere during the deposition, Archbishop Carlson also reportedly admitted that although he encouraged the parents of one sexual abuse victim to report it to police, he never reported any such incidents to law enforcement himself.
How is this guy still wearing cassocks instead of chains?
Watch the clip of Archbishop Carlson's testimony, after the jump.