Church of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Maplewood on Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013. The pastor, Fr. Mark Huberty, is being investigated for
Church of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
in Maplewood on Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013.
The pastor, Fr. Mark Huberty, is being investigated for alleged criminal sexual conduct with a woman. (Photo by Emily Gurnon)
Maplewood priest Mark Huberty acquitted of sexual misconduct with woman
Huberty could not be reached for comment, but his lawyer, Paul Engh, said the priest "is disappointed to have been charged, but is looking forward to the trial."
While meeting regularly with the woman to discuss issues raised in her
catechism classes, Huberty
to be his
friend, according to the criminal complaint.
They had met in 2008, when the woman came to him for spiritual counsel after the death of a family member.
He agreed to be her "spiritual adviser" at the time, the complaint said.
"explained that a rule of their friendship was that any touching would be above the waist and over clothing," and he
began to regularly visit her
home, the complaint said.
began fondling her
buttocks and breasts while hugging her
, the complaint said.
The behavior progressed to Huberty
taking off his
pants and asking the woman to stroke his
genitals, charges said.
That happened once in Duluth and three times at the woman's home, the complaint said.
"When the victim questioned the appropriateness of this activity, (Huberty) assured her
that it was only a venial, not a mortal sin, so it was OK," the complaint said.
told the woman that the touching-only rule would not apply while on vacation.
They scheduled a trip together to a religious choral performance in Kansas City on April 12, but Huberty
canceled six days before.
allegedly advised the woman there was no reason to tell her
husband about their sexual activity.
to think about how it would negatively would affect (him) if she
reported him to authorities," the complaint said.
The woman brought her
allegations to the Maplewood police May 1.
was charged by summons; he
is not in custody.
The priest went on leave and was removed from the church rectory in September during the investigation.
In a statement Sept. 22 on its website, the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis
took leave because he
had been accused by a woman of "inappropriate touching.
"The archdiocese fully cooperated with all civil authorities in conducting their investigation, and Fr. Huberty
was placed on leave from active ministry on Sept. 19," Accurso said.
"As a result of today's developments, Fr. Huberty submitted his resignation as pastor of the Church of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Maplewood.
will remain on leave (from any priestly duties) until the investigation is concluded."
Until his leave, Huberty also served as a teaching parish supervisor for the St. Paul Seminary and a mentor for newly ordained priests.
Huberty served as Presentation's pastor beginning in 2007.
Before that, he served at St. Timothy in Maple Lake and St. Charles Borromeo in St. Anthony, according to Presentation's website.
faces a felony charge of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct.
first court appearance is scheduled for Dec. 18.
Hennepin County is handling his case because Huberty was in the same high school class as Ramsey County Attorney John Choi.
Prosecutors waited to charge Huberty
until a Minnesota Supreme Court decision involving another priest.
The Rev. Christopher Wenthe was convicted in 2011 of felony criminal sexual conduct for having sex with a 21-year-old penitent at Nativity of Our Lord parish in St. Paul while she was "seeking or receiving religious or spiritual advice, aid or comfort in private."
In a statement Tuesday, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said Huberty's alleged conduct "is simply not proper conduct for a member of the clergy."