Church scandals, taking food from children, and return of a Purple Heart(5×8 – 1/30/14)


Where does the church “scandal” go next now that the Ramsey County attorney has determined that there’ll be no charges against the archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis for not reporting sexual abuse perpetrated at the hands of priests?

Is that it? Are we back to it being another in a long line of nationwide stories about slow-moving church officials appearing to cover up the dirty deeds of its priests?

Writing in his Pioneer Press column today, Ruben Rosario says he’s “sick already of this stuff, for it continues to stain the great majority of the good people of faith.”

But he says he can’t look past Tom Scheck’s story last week about an archdiocese slush fund that was used to help keep the scandal under wraps.

Says Rosario:

St. Paul-based victim attorney Jeffrey Anderson believes both Choi and Smith wimped out in the Wehmeyer case.

Anderson said documents confirm Wehmeyer was given a 28-hour advance by church higher-ups that he would be arrested for the child-abuse allegations. That gave him time, Anderson argues, to remove a camper trailer at the church parking lot where the crimes took place to a storage facility.

Anderson represents Wehmeyer’s two child victims — and perhaps a third not connected to the criminal prosecution — in a potential civil lawsuit against the archdiocese that could be filed within few weeks.

“They had ample evidence,” Anderson said of law enforcement.

Choi, a St. Thomas Academy and Marquette University graduate, grew up Catholic but says he is no longer a practicing Catholic. Smith is a former altar boy with an intense dislike for sex offenders. I believe both men were itching for criminal prosecution, but were handcuffed by current laws.

No doubt, the archdiocese is breathing easier. And yet the stories keep coming. Today, Madeleine Baran’s story shows even more evidence that when made aware of criminal abuse by a priest.

The police, from what her story suggests, didn’t know about the documents and didn’t find them in their recent investigation that didn’t turn up enough evidence for charges against the archdiocese.

Related: Rural Arizona priest removed from ministry after being accused of sexual abuse of minors in ND (Fargo Forum)


For many poor kids, school is the only place to get a decent meal. But in Salt Lake City, school officials took it out on the kids when their accounts — funded by parents — were tapped out.

After the kids picked up their lunches, the Salt Lake Tribune reports, the child-nutrition manager rounded up the food and threw it out.

“It was pretty traumatic and humiliating,” said Erica Lukes, whose 11-year-old daughter had her cafeteria lunch taken from her as she stood in line Tuesday at Uintah Elementary School, 1571 E. 1300 South.

Lukes said as far as she knew, she was all paid up. “I think it’s despicable,” she said. “These are young children that shouldn’t be punished or humiliated for something the parents obviously need to clear up.”

At first, the school superintendent defended the action, then dropped an apology on the district’s Facebook page.

But parents were nearly unanimous in their condemnation and demand that the nutrition manager’s head be served on a platter.

What does any sane, rational, compassionate, and moral person do when they see a hungry child? They FEED them. What did these people do? Gave kids food, then snatched it away and threw it in the trash????? This is moral depravity of the highest order–but sadly, not surprising in a culture that takes from the poor to give more and ever more to the rich . . .


Thumbs up to Mark Kasper and his family in Otsego who found a Purple Heart medal when they were cleaning up around their farm.

It belonged to Pvt. George Johnson, who was killed in Korea on July 23, 1950. He was 17. His Purple Heart and Bronze Star — awarded posthumously — were kept in his parent’s store in Cambridge until they were stolen, WCCO reports.

His younger brother fought tears yesterday when the medals were returned.

Related: A Medal Of Valor, 30 Years In Coming (NPR).


On short notice in Pennsylvania, a fracking opponent in had to appear in court, to answer complaints from a fracking firm, who wanted her barred from anything in her town that is owned by or leased to the firm. The judge granted the order. The problem: Most of her town is owned by or leased to the firm.

Oil Boom: See A Modern-Day Gold Rush In Motion (NPR). You really must take the time to look at these images.


Until I saw this video posted this week by Tom Hicks, I hadn’t considered the many elements of Minnesota that didn’t close down and couldn’t be derailed by the cold weather of recent weeks. Funerals, for example.

Related: St. Paul woman who died of exposure wanted to move someplace warm, sister says (Pioneer Press)

Chick-fil-A gives free food to motorists stranded in Southern snowstorm (Fox News) h/t: Nick Cross.

Stranded Drivers Rely on Good Samaritans to Stave Off Danger, Hunger During Winter Storm (


Bonus I: Let’s face it: We love stories that rank Minnesota and its cities well. How else can we explain the fascination with the methodology-challenged “survey” that shows Saint Paul is the most romantic city in America?

But there’s another survey out that suggests there’s work to be done for the faithful. Minneapolis ranks only 53rd in “Bible-mindedness.” The survey, from the Bible search site, Bible Gateway, says, however, that Minneapolis’ rank is 22 spots better than a year ago, when the ranking put us closer to hell than heaven, apparently.

The most recent American Bible Society ranking, on the other hand, puts Minneapolis at #75 on the list of 100 cities. Both lists put Providence, Rhode Island at the bottom.

Bonus II: For some reason, we can’t resist passing along fun pokes at the public radio audience. What’s wrong with us?

Bonus III: Surprising your football-loving mother with Super Bowl tickets: priceless.


Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: The big picture look at next-gen sequencing.

Second hour: Controlling synthetic drugs.

Third hour: Ann Dowsett Johnston, author of “Drink.”

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm) – Author Amy Tan, speaking in Minneapolis at the Hennepin County Library’s “Talk of the Stacks” series. Her new book is “The Valley of Amazement.”

The Takeaway (1-2 p.m.) – Will the future of robots and humans be one of perfect technological harmony?

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – A growing body of research identifies a strong link between health and housing. If your home is unaffordable or your living situation unstable, your health could suffer. Health insurers are taking note. Some are even committing substantial funding to connect low-income folks to better housing options. MPR’s Annie Baxter will have the story.

The world’s first commercial spaceport needs a home near the equator. Brownsville, Texas, has the location and the need for an economic boost. NPR looks at the prospect of a spaceport on the southern tip of Texas.

  • MrE85

    1) It seems that in Minnesota at least, police and Mr. Choi seem to have less information and resources to investigate these cases of abuse than MPR has. Or perhaps less willingness.
    2) Again, what were they thinking?
    3) Thumbs up, indeed.

    • Gary F

      And still not sure why we haven’t heard more from the media and government officials regarding Archbishop Flynn. There seems to be a lack of media attention given to him.

  • AndyBriebart

    Hats off to that Chick fil a store and it’s employees. What can you do today to help someone in need?

  • BJ

    TWEET OF THE DAY, I was thinking the same thing…. I left about 45 minutes early this morning and arrived… On time, OK 3 minutes early.

  • jaime

    #4: How is that even possible?!? Very scary that a corporation wields so much power and that a judge wouldn’t see the absurdity of the whole thing. Makes me reflect on the Polymet conversations happening and how the corporation “promises” to monitor and fix any environmental issues that may arise throughout the next 200 years.

    • John

      Generally, I believe, the owner of a private business has the right to refuse service to anyone they want to. Might not be a good idea, but it’s their business to do with as they see fit.

      • KTN

        Well, the Supreme Court disagrees with you, unless you really think a business can exclude Jews, or Muslims, or blonds, or ….
        Heart of Atlanta v. U.S. might be a good place to start in better understanding why companies cannot exclude for any reason they seem fit, something about discrimination violating the 14th A.

        • John

          Fair point, I was thinking about things like the buffer zone that exists around abortion clinics that are intended to keep protestors from harassing patients. At the moment, those are legal (though I understand that case is currently under review by the supreme court).

      • jaime

        But I think this goes beyond private business refusing service. As the full article notes, the woman was not given enough notice to obtain a lawyer. Thus, no one brought up whether a person/corporation leasing space to a business has the authority to deny service to a person entering the business as the corporation doesn’t actually own the business. Either way, it’s an ugly situation and a bad use of the court system.

        • John

          yeah, that’s not good.

        • DavidG

          Maybe I’m misreading the order, but I don’t think the fracking company
          owns or leases the hospital, chinese restaurant, animal shelter, or
          grocery store:

          “Vera Scroggins, an outspoken opponent of fracking, is legally barred from the new county hospital. Also off-limits, unless
          Scroggins wants to risk fines and arrest, are the Chinese restaurant
          where she takes her grandchildren, the supermarkets and drug stores
          where she shops, the animal shelter where she adopted her Yorkshire
          terrier, bowling alley, recycling center, golf club, and lakeshore.”

          It appears to apply to any land the company holds drilling leases on, whether or not they are actively drilling on the land.

          So the situation is even worse: Cabot appears to have the power to trespass her from businesses/property that may actually welcome her, simply because they have signed a gas lease with Cabot.

  • Greg W

    5) I, too, was at a funeral on Monday in Menahga, MN. There wasn’t even a question about whether or not the internment was going to be delayed because of the weather. We just did it.

  • DavidG

    #1: I wonder how much damage Choi has done to the mandatory reporting law by failing to seek charges.

    #2 just a quick google search turned up similar actions by schools in NJ And Texas just this last fall. It seems to be a somewhat common practice to take the kids food away. You’re never to young to learn the power of humiliation, I guess.

    • Kassie

      When I was a kid, if you forgot your lunch money once, you got a lunch. The second time, you only got a milk and a pb&j sandwich. That sandwich was humiliating since everyone knew what it meant, but at least we got food.

      • Jack

        Kids are still fed in our school district – hungry kids make for poor achievement so it’s self-defeating behavior to not feed them.
        One year, I totally forgot to pay after putting lunch money in his account at the beginning of the year but he was still fed every day. Was a little shocked when the note came saying that I owed over $200 for the year but more than happy to pay.
        Now, you can’t go in the red for very long before they would call you.

        • Jack

          Reference to “his” is my son. Sorry for the odd wording.

  • John

    Given #1, I’m a little bummed that we haven’t slipped lower in Bonus I.

    #2 – In our district, if your account drops to zero (or really below about $3), they start sending notes home. Even if you pay up the next day (which I often forget to do), they keep feeding your kid, but they start with more demanding notes and putting a stamp on the kid’s hand to remind him/her to remind you. BUT – they keep feeding the kids.

    Also – sometimes the check takes a couple weeks to clear, so I’m not sure when the balance on the lunch account actually goes back into the black.

  • Bonnie

    Cemeteries use propane to warm the ground over two days in order to be able to dig a grave. Even with the cold, however, the snow cover has helped reduce the depth of the frost. Keeping a supply of propane on hand is potentially an issue if the shortage continues.

    Niece living in Atlanta, who grew up in St. Paul and Duluth, said although she cannot say so publicly, they really do not know how to drive down there. She had no problem except for the roads clogged with abandoned vehicles.

    Love the PHC tailgating! Don’t get IFC will have to catch it on the internet somewhere.