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MINNESOTA NEWS ROUNDUP: Officials reopen criminal investigation involving Catholic priest

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MINNEAPOLIS -- A criminal investigation into a Catholic priest accused of downloading child pornography has been reopened based on new information. That information is said to include a copy of hundreds of child pornography images found on a priest's computer, as well as internal documents that appear to show that officials with the Archdiocese of Minneapolis and St. Paul knew the pictures may be illegal and were worried about potential criminal prosecution. St. Paul police spokesman Howie Padilla cautions, though, that the revived investigation doesn't mean an indictment is imminent. Last week Archbishop John Nienstedt's second-in-command, Peter Laird, resigned after allegations that he helped cover up the scandal surfaced. The members of a task force Nienstedt has put together to review how the Archdiocese has handled sexual misconduct by clergy is expected to be announced today (Wed). His office released a statement saying that they have cooperated with the police since the beginning of the investigation and will continue to do so. 

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A St. Cloud business owner has been arrested on several charges stemming from an undercover drug investigation. Law enforcement officials used a search warrant Monday at the IPOD Guy Store. The search stemmed from two undercover drug buys at the store where owner, 44-year-old Andrew Fredrick, allegedly sold officers prescription drugs. Police seized Oxycontin and Percocet pills at the store Monday and arrested Frederick. A 17-year-old girl and an 18-month-old child were also at the store. The girl told police she was Frederick's girlfriend and the child was hers. Police used a DNA test to determine the child was Frederick's and that the child was conceived when the girl was 15-years-old. Police also seized a .40-caliber handgun in the raid.

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A man is seriously hurt after climbing a power pole overnight and getting shocked near the University of Minnesota campus. Police say the man came in contact with a switch on the pole that caused an explosion. He then caught on fire and fell to the ground. A passerby saw the man and tried to put the flames out. He was taken to HCMC with burns over his body. The man's name has not been released and his current condition is unknown.

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 Former Governor Jesse Ventura will be speaking at the Twin Cities Book Festival on Saturday. The event will be held at the State Fairgrounds. Ventura is expected to talk about his book on the assassination of John F. Kennedy. 

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 Fifth District Congressman Keith Ellison was among those arrested by the U-S Capitol Police Tuesday afternoon during an immigration rally on the National Mall. Ellison was sitting in the middle of the street blocking traffic as protesters marched to the Capitol. His office says it was an act of civil disobedience, urging Congress to allow undocumented immigrants to apply for citizenship.

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A sexual abuse survivor and her attorneys will ask a Polk County judge today (Wed) to release to the public a list possessed and maintained by the Diocese of Crookston that contains the names of several priests who have faced credible allegations of sexual abuse. The lawsuit was filed in June and claims the Diocese was negligent in allowing the now-deceased Father James Porter to have continued access to children. Porter is suspected of abusing more than 100 children in multiple states including Minnesota, Massachusetts, Texas, and New Mexico. Arguments are expected to be made about how the Diocese of Crookston maintained and kept secret this list, and the victim's lawyer says he expects the Diocese will argue that the privacy of priests outweighs the need for public disclosure. Attorney Jeff Anderson says, "the continued secrecy by all defendants gravely imperils the wellness of the community and the children."

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Lieutenant Governor Yvonne Prettner Solon, Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius, Minneapolis school officials and other groups are at Pillsbury Elementary School this morning (7-8am) to kick off the "Minnesota School Breakfast Challenge." The state Education Department's Josh Collins says less than half of kids eligible for school breakfasts actually have it Collin says they're looking at innovative ways to make sure that kids are able to take advantage of that, like breakfast in the classroom. Collins says the top 30 Minnesota schools will receive 10 cents for every new breakfast served, beyond what was served last year. He says it could mean thousands of dollars in new funding for those schools.

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Reducing synthetic drug use in Minnesota is the goal as three House committees hold a joint hearing this afternoon (1230pm) at the State Capitol. Minnesota law has had difficulty keeping up with rapidly-changing formulations, and Duluth Democrat Erik Simonson says lawmakers are thinking about banning the sale of anything that looks like, acts like or has the impact of synthetic drugs. He says rather than focus on specific chemical makeup, the proposed law would look at the intent. Simonson acknowledges an Indiana law taking that approach is being challenged in court, but says they're hoping for a positive outcome.

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Jason Schulte
Jason Schulte has been with the Herald since 2006. He covers County government and anything else that happens in Pierce County on a daily basis.
(715) 273-4334
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