The firm conducted interviews and collected affidavits, or sworn statements, from people who worked with or knew Nienstedt. The Star Tribune has confirmed that five Catholic priests, one former priest and a former seminarian were among those who provided affidavits. In one affidavit, a priest in Harrison Township, Mich., reported seeing Nienstedt at a gay nightclub in Windsor, Ontario, just across the border from Detroit in the 1980s. “I recall seeing John — and there is no doubt in my mind that it was him based on my prior interactions with him — at the Happy Tap,” the Rev. Lawrence Ventline wrote in his affidavit. “He appeared to wave me off as I was coming — and I backed off because I did not want impose on him.”
Another affidavit from a Michigan priest said that Nienstedt pulled up to his car in an area frequented by gay men one December in the early 1980s and asked him if he had any “poppers,” an inhalant used by gay men to enhance sexual pleasure. When he got into Nienstedt’s car, and Nienstedt recognized him as a former student, he changed the subject, the priest told the Star Tribune. A former seminarian at Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit, James Heathcott, also filed an affidavit. He said that Nienstedt — who was the seminary’s rector — expelled him after he refused an invitation to join Nienstedt and two other seminarians on a private weekend at a ski chalet in the late 1980s.
Nienstedt resigned after prosecutors filed criminal and civil charges against the archdiocese for “failure to protect children.” Regarding today’s accusations, Nienstedt claims to be “dumbfounded” and says that while he did regularly drive by that park, it was only because it was on the way to the cardinal’s official residence. Nienstedt further claims to have been on assignment in Rome at time he is alleged to have asked for poppers. (Tipped by JMG reader Rick)
PREVIOUSLY ON JMG: The Archdiocese declared bankruptcy in January 2015. Last summer Minneapolis Archbishop John Nienstedt was accused of “sexual impropriety” with priests and other men. Nienstedt then denied allegations that he is gay to a local newspaper. Niedstedt was later grilled by a different local paper about his sexuality. In January 2012, Nienstedt ordered all of Minnesota’s priests to remain silent
if they opposed the coming referendum on same-sex marriage. Later in
2012, it was Nienstedt’s ugly anti-gay public letter that launched NFL
player Chris Kluwe into the spotlight after Kluwe penned a blistering response in a local newspaper. In September of that year Nienstedt declared that Satan loves sodomy. Also in September 2012, Nienstedt was accused of shielding a pedophile priest who is currently in prison. In 2010 Nienstedt ordered that communion be denied to openly gay students. Also in 2010, Nienstedt’s archdiocese sent out 400,000 DVDs to Minnesota voters urging that they support anti-gay gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer.