Expert Calls Court Ruling in Church Abuse Case 'Stunning'

Updated: 02/12/2014 10:27 AM By: Tim Sherno

A court order now compels Archbishop John Nienstedt and the Rev. Kevin McDonough to give sworn testimony detailing what they know about sex abuse allegations made against priests in the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis.

Dr. Charles Reid is a law professor from the University of St. Thomas with experience in both canon law and civil law. Reid says the court ruling is an unexpected development.

"I was surprised with the swiftness with which this happened, and I think this is a very stunning and important development," he said.

Nienstedt and McDonough's testimony will be sealed, but Reid says that isn't a win for the church.

"It does not give the Archbishop or Father McDonough any additional freedom because their testimony is still subject to perjury charges if they dissemble or dissimulate under oath," he said. "What it does do is protect the victim."

Reid said that ordering an Archbishop to testify is rare. He added that Nienstedt and McDonough will be asked about procedures and practices used by the church to deal with sexual abuse allegations.