Reports to police, Benton sheriff detail claims against ex-deacon

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(SC Times) The allegations of sexual misconduct by former Church of the Holy Spirit deacon Michael W. Weber include an accusation that he fondled a boy he met when Weber was a “big brother” to the boy in St. Cloud in the late 1960s.

That allegation is part of a three-page investigation report the Times has obtained from the Benton County Sheriff’s Department. That report, which was written after an investigator spoke to the alleged victim on Nov. 9, outlines an incident in Foley at Weber’s parents’ home and also references a separate incident at a cabin in Crow Wing County in which the alleged victim in the Benton County case awoke to find Weber inside the sleeping bag of a second boy.

Both of the incidents happened in the late 1960s and were reported to the respective sheriff’s offices earlier this month.

Those reports were made before the St. Cloud diocese announced Saturday that there would be a listening session at 4 p.m. Dec. 4 at Holy Spirit because of the allegations against Weber. The diocese has said it considers the allegations it has received against Weber to be credible. It’s unclear if those allegations are the same ones that have been made to authorities in Crow Wing and Benton counties.

Weber has resigned from his position as chairman of the board of Rainbow Research in Minneapolis, and his biographical information has been removed from the firm’s website, said Barry Cohen, president and executive director at Rainbow Research. That follows Weber’s resignation in recent days from the board of the Greater Twin Cities United Way and his departure as a volunteer mentor in the College of St. Benedict/St. John’s University Donald McNeely Center for Entrepreneurship.

“I can assure you that board members have no contact with children or the clients we serve,” Cohen said Tuesday.

Weber had been a board member at Rainbow Research for five years, Cohen said.

Weber has not made any comment about the allegations against him. His career includes years of work in child protection, including being associate director and acting executive director of the National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse. He is past director of the Hennepin County Community Services Department and was an assistant commissioner in the Minnesota Department of Human Services.

Weber, 67, is a Foley native and St. John’s graduate who lives in the Twin Cities.

The Benton County report indicates that the man who accused him of abuse met Weber through St. John’s in Collegeville and referred to Weber as a “big brother.” The boy met Weber through a relative who had a church-related job.

Weber acted as a big brother to the boy for two to three years and took the child to a Minnesota North Stars hockey game in the winter of 1968 or 1969, the man told investigators. Weber took the boy to Weber’s parents’ house in Foley after the game, according to the report from the Benton County Sheriff’s Department, and the two slept in the same bed.

Weber massaged the boy’s back and then reached into the boy’s underwear and grabbed his genitals, according to the report. The boy pretended to be asleep.

The boy told a school counselor at North Junior High about the incident and was referred to a different counselor. The boy never saw Weber again, according to the investigative report.

The alleged victim in the case told the Benton County investigator this month that he didn’t want to report the incident while his mother was still alive, but that he decided to file a report when he learned that Weber was still mentoring students at St. John’s and that Weber “has been working around kids his whole life and nothing has been done about it.”

The allegations are too old to bring criminal charges and the case will be considered closed.

The man also told the Benton County investigator that two female relatives also were molested by Weber.

He also said a separate report was made to St. Cloud police about Weber.

The Times requested that report, and St. Cloud police provided a partially redacted report about a call in late September 2009 from someone who described themselves as an advocate for victims of sexual assault.

That caller told police that two people had reported being sexually assaulted about 40 years ago by “a person of prominent social status in the area.” The report goes on to refer to the alleged suspect as “president and CEO of an organization where the party is believed to have contact with minor children.”

The diocese has a copy of same report, and it lists Weber as the subject of the phone call.

The caller was seeking clarification on whether the allegations triggered a mandatory report, and the caller said victims might be willing to identify themselves if needed. No other information was received by police related to the 2009 call. The caller didn’t contact police again about the alleged perpetrator.

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Reports to police, Benton sheriff detail claims against ex-deacon
St. Cloud Times
David Unze
Nov. 15, 2011

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Topics: Michael Weber

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