Attorney Jeff Anderson Directs Questions to Archbishop Hebda and Fr. Daniel Bodin About Their Actions
(Saint Paul, MN) – Fr. Daniel Bodin, the head pastor of St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Forest Lake, MN, has used the power of his pulpit to praise convicted child predator James Carter. Carter was charged in the summer of 2020 with three counts of criminal sexual conduct after he groomed and sexually assaulted two minors. In June 2021, Carter was convicted of two counts of criminal sexual conduct involving both minors. Carter will be sentenced on Friday, September 16, 2022, by Judge Richard Ilkka in Washington County District Court.
Carter was in close contact with minors through the teaching of confirmation classes at St. Peter’s parish, and Fr. Bodin filed a letter with the Court praising the convicted offender and pleading for a lenient sentence. Fr. Bodin stated that he has received only letters of praise, and gratitude about Carter and requested clemency when imposing a sentence.
Attorney Jeff Anderson poses these questions to Archbishop Hebda and Fr. Bodin:
- What have you done to reach out to other children at St. Peter’s parish and school who may have been harmed by this predator and to encourage them to come forward?
- What have you done to investigate Carter’s relationship with children at the parish and school and make appropriate inquiries into those relationships?
- What have you done to protect children and advance their safety at the parish and school?
- What message have you communicated to other children in the parish and school about coming forward, truth telling, and healing, should they have been harmed by Carter?
- Why are you using the pulpit to praise and protect a convicted child molester?
“We only see that you, Fr. Bodin, have praised and further protected a predator dangerous to children,” said Anderson.
“This is an abuse of power of his pulpit,” said Anderson. “Not only did Fr. Bodin engage and endorse Carter as a volunteer at St. Peter’s Church, he empowered Carter to teach confirmation classes, putting Carter in a position of power and allowing him to be around more children. By his letter standing by a convicted predator and his actions as head pastor, Fr. Bodin has caused further harm to the courageous youth that came forward, and whose brave action of truth-telling will protect other youth from the harm they suffered.”
Additionally, professional educators wrote letters in support of Carter. One described Carter as a committed to student safety, having a “sterling character,” and as a man of “deep Christian faith” and asked for “mercy” on Carter’s behalf. Another praised Carter as a caring teacher dedicated to students, and a having a “strong faith in God” and requested that when sentencing him, the Court consider Carter’s “depth of good character.”
“As an educator and volunteer, Carter abused his position of authority and groomed his students to gain trust, and then sexually exploited them,” said attorney Jeff Anderson. “This abuse cannot be tolerated in any faith organization or school system.”
Attorneys from the law firm of Jeff Anderson & Associates received the following letter from the family of a minor victim who was groomed and sexually abused by Carter:
On Friday letters of support for JC were downloaded to the case file. These letters are very concerning but we understand why they are written. It feels to us that some of the people in the community are accepting his verdict but they are all asking for leniency of course. I’m sorry this culture of thinking that a person (who was found guilty by a jury) shouldn’t be held accountable for assaulting two young children (during their developmental years) is SO wrong. Why does he get a pass for sexually and mentally hurting children?? It doesn’t matter how good the person may appear, it is obvious that he has a very dark side and doesn’t understand boundaries of normal civilization. This man has scarred our son’s life how can this be forgotten?
With that being said…. there is a letter of support on St. Peter’s Catholic church letter head from Father Bodine in Forest Lake (where we will never be able to attend that church again) where father calls Jim Carter his “friend” and asks the judge for leniency. Are you kidding me?? We are so angry and upset by this letter. How can the Catholic church throw out the victims to support this man? Asking the judge for leniency after all the abuse the Catholic priests have done to children/adults in the past makes this letter feel so wrong. We have contacted Neil, the Catholic Victims investigator (who is looking into our concerns of Jim Carter crossing the lines during faith formation classes) letting him know this letter is not okay. Is there anything we can do without us crossing the line (whatever the line is) to draw attention to the Catholic Church for supporting a pedophile and not caring about the emotional well-being of the victims? One would think that the Catholic Church would advise a priest against this. It’s one thing to write a letter of support as a friend but another to sight an investigation and its conclusion that there were not complaints of incidents from children and put it on letterhead from St. Peter’s Catholic church – this makes it look like the Catholic church as an entity is on board.
Damages are being incurred against the victims as I write this (these letters have been very impactful). Writing letters of support without knowing all the facts minimizes the victims & families.