Archbishop says he wasn't sure sex with a child was a crime

Archbishop Robert Carlson

The head of the Archdiocese of St. Louis said in a deposition he didn't know it was a crime for a priest to have sex with a child.

In the deposition given last month, but just released this week, Archbishop Robert Carlson said under oath he couldn't recall details of how he handled allegations of abuse against a Minnesota priest decades ago.

"Archbishop, you knew it was a crime for an adult to engage in sex with a kid," Carlson was asked in the deposition.

"I'm not sure I knew whether it was a crime or not," Carlson replied.

Carlson, who served as chancellor of the Twin Cities archdiocese in the 1980s also said he didn't go to authorities in 1984 when the priest admitted that he engaged in sexual conduct with a minor.

Despite criticism of Carlson, attorney Art Margulis told KSDK-TV in St. Louis a defense attorney could make sense of the deposition by saying he truly didn't know what constitutes a crime.

"It's quite possible that the archbishop may not have known all of the facts concerning what's been described as a sexual assault, if he didn't know all of the facts," Margulis said.

The Archdiocese of St. Louis released a statement Monday saying Carlson made it clear in the deposition that he knows child sex abuse is a crime today and went on to call pedophilia an "egregious offense."