Updated: 12/17/2013 5:56 PM
Created: 12/17/2013 5:26 PM KAALtv.com
(KSTP) - St. Paul Police Chief Tom Smith said Tuesday archdiocesan officials have not been very cooperative on priest sex abuse cases. He urged the Archdiocese of Minneapolis and St. Paul to be more forthcoming with information on previous allegations of sex abuse.
In a news conference he said, “I want to let the public know one thing: let me be very clear on this," Smith said. "We have through written and verbal requests made clear our desire to speak to individuals connected to the archdiocese and we have been told no."
Smith says police have not had the access to interview clergy members. As late as last week, Smith said they were told no.
"In order for us to bring these cases to the next step in the process of concluding investigations and to bring them to closure, we again, now publicly, call upon those individuals to speak with us," Smith said. "That’s why we are here today.”
Smith said he sent a letter, in addition to numerous verbal requests, asking for access to members of the archdiocese who have relevant knowledge of the procedures within the archdiocese.
“It’s never good enough when someone tells us no and that’s why we have to work with our partners," Smith said. "And let me clarify. I request to talk with people in voluntary interviews to learn more information to further our investigations, but you have to have probable cause. If someone tells us no, they don’t want to talk to us and the archdiocese says they’re cooperating you can come to the reasonable conclusion of where we are here today.”
The Archdiocese came out with a statement earlier Tuesday about the allegations against Archbishop John Nienstedt. In a written statement Nienstedt said: "I hope that the investigations can be thorough but quick. I already long to be back in public ministry—to be able to serve as the Lord has called me to serve. I regret this will be my last column until the present investigations are complete."
When questioned why St. Paul police have not obtained a search warrant for the "secret documents,” Smith said they have not been able to get enough access to information that would justify a search warrant. “You need probable cause to get search warrants and to do that, you’ve got to be able to talk with people and we haven’t been able to do that so far.”
Smith said police have scheduled a meeting with an attorney from the Archdiocese Wednesday.
"Today the archdiocese has voiced its commitment to cooperation. And let me tell you this, ‘I expect nothing less,’”said Smith.