No charges for ND priest accused of sexual misconduct

FARGO (FNS) — A priest in south-central North Dakota will not be criminally charged after a girl accused him of sexual misconduct while he was a clergyman in Fargo and Towner, but Catholic leaders will decide at a later date whether he can resume missionary work.

McHenry County State’s Attorney Joshua Frey announced Tuesday, Nov. 26, that he will not file charges against the Rev. Wenceslaus Katanga, who is on administrative leave pending an investigation by the Fargo Diocese. The announcement comes three months after the Cass County State’s Attorney’s Office declined criminal charges amid similar allegations in Fargo.

“I have concluded that there is insufficient evidence of criminal wrongdoing as well as questionable grounds for jurisdiction lying in McHenry County,” Frey said in his letter of declination. “Therefore, it is my opinion that I would be unable to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Katanga was removed from his priestly duties in April after the diocese learned police were investigating allegations of conduct involving a child while he was a priest at Sts. Anne and Joachim Catholic Church. A young girl accused Katanga of inappropriately touching her three times in the late 2000s — twice in Fargo and once at his home in McHenry County.

Like Cass County authorities, Frey said there were no witnesses to corroborate the girl’s story, nor was there physical evidence to back up the claims.

“While the law does not require corroborating physical evidence to sustain a conviction for gross sexual imposition, it is my opinion that the lack of any corroborating evidence will be fatal to a prosecution on these facts,” Frey wrote.

The child also couldn’t identify the location of Katanga’s McHenry County home, and drawings of the home did not match that of his parish residence in Towner, Frey said.

5 dead in Minneapolis high-rise fire

MINNEAPOLIS (FNS) — An early morning fire killed five people in a high-rise apartment just east of downtown Wednesday, Nov. 27.

Four people killed were found on the 14th floor of the structure at 630 Cedar Ave. S., a half-mile south of the I-35 bridge over the Mississippi River, and were pronounced dead at the scene. A fifth victim was found in a stairway and died at an area hospital, the Minneapolis Fire Department said in a news release.

Three others were injured and transported to a hospital. One firefighter suffered a minor injury and was transported for treatment.

The fire was reported about 4 a.m.

The response was upgraded to a second alarm and later a third alarm to help with medical assistance and evacuations, the fire department said.

According to a fire department tweet, crews reported smoke and fire on the 14th floor and smoke on the 15th through 17th floors. The fire appeared to be in a room but spread across the 14th floor.

Fire crews were able to put out the fire in 30 minutes.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

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