Priest Sentenced to One Year 15 Dec 11

A judge has sentenced a Roman Catholic priest to a year in jail for criminal sexual conduct involving a female parishioner.

The judge ordered that 47-year-old Christopher Wenthe of Delano be taken into custody immediately Wednesday.

Judge Margaret Marrinan agreed to a defense request for a sentence lower than the four years called for in state guidelines. She reasoned that if Wenthe were in prison, he wouldn’t be able to pay restitution of up to $90,000 and the $30,000 fine that she also ordered.

A jury convicted Wenthe of engaging in illegal sexual conduct with the victim in late 2003, when she sought spiritual counseling. At the time, Wenthe was working at a St. Paul church.

His attorney plans an appeal.