MADISON — Attorney General Josh Kaul announced April 27 a statewide initiative, led by the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ), with support from district attorneys, survivor groups, and crime victim services professionals, which will review reports of clergy and faith leader abuse in Wisconsin.
Survivors, their friends and family, or anyone who has information about the church’s response to abuse are encouraged to report clergy and faith leader abuse online at SupportSurvivors.widoj.gov or by calling 1-877-222-2620.
“The people of Wisconsin, and especially victims, deserve an independent review of clergy and faith leader abuse,” said Attorney General Kaul. “With this initiative, we are seeking to ensure that survivors of clergy and faith leader abuse have access to needed victim services, to help prevent future cases of sexual assault, and to get accountability to the extent possible.”
“Survivors are grateful to the Attorney General for his commitment to pursue justice for victims of clergy abuse and tell the truth about the full extent and impact of abuse and institutional concealment in Wisconsin’s faith-based organizations. This initiative is the result of many decades of survivors courageously coming forward to tell their stories,” said Peter Isely, Program Director of Nate’s Mission, and founding member of Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP).
This initiative will include an independent and thorough review of sexual abuse committed by clergy and faith leaders in Wisconsin, no matter when that abuse occurred.
Through this initiative, DOJ will provide survivors of clergy and faith leader abuse with a safe and confidential means to obtain support from DOJ’s Office of Crime Victim Services and referrals to available services.
The initiative also will provide a confidential means for:
● survivors to report sexual abuse by clergy and faith leaders
● others who have witnessed, know about, or suspect such abuse to report it
● people to report what they know about the response to or concealment of abuse by clergy and faith leaders.
DOJ will gather information directly from survivors and their family, friends, and advocates through the contact number identified above and an online submission form at the website identified above. DOJ also hopes to receive documents and information from dioceses and religious orders in Wisconsin. As part of the review, victim advocates and/or sensitive crimes investigators may follow up with survivors to conduct trauma-informed interviews. To the extent that further investigation is necessary to support potential prosecutions, with the victim’s consent DOJ will refer those cases to local law enforcement and district attorneys.
DOJ has recently been in contact with the five Catholic dioceses in Wisconsin, as well as several religious orders with priests in Wisconsin, to inform them of this review and to discuss next steps.
For more information about the inquiry, including responses to frequently asked questions, please visit SupportSurvivors.widoj.gov.
The state Department of Justice will investigate clergy sexual assaults in the state’s five Catholic dioceses, including Madison and La Crosse.
Attorney General Josh Kaul wrote a letter to the five dioceses announcing the investigation.
A meeting reportedly took place with Kaul and representatives of the dioceses Monday.
The Madison and La Crosse dioceses published lists in 2019 of priests who were found after investigations to have engaged in sexual abuse, including eight priests from the Diocese of Madison who served parishes in Grant, Lafayette and Iowa counties, and 13 priests from the Diocese of La Crosse who served parishes in Crawford and Richland counties.
The Diocese of Madison’s list includes:
● Archie Adams, who was at St. Charles in Cassville, St. Mary in Mineral Point, St. Thomas in Montfort, St. Philomena in Belmont, St. Michael in Calamine, St. John Nepomucene in Castle Rock, St. Luke in Plain, and Immaculate Conception in Truman. Adams, who was ordained in 1955, died in 2008.
● Curtis Alvarez, who was at Holy Rosary in Darlington. Alvarez, who was ordained in 1976, was laicized (removed from the priesthood) in 2010.
● J. Gibbs Clauder, who was at Holy Rosary in Darlington. Clauder, who was ordained in 1973, was removed from ministry in 1999.
● Patrick Doherty, who was at Immaculate Conception in Boscobel, St. Lawrence O’Toole in Mount Hope, St. John in Patch Grove and St. Luke in Plain. Doherty, who was ordained in 1959, had his priestly authority revoked in 1993.
● John Eberhardy, who was at St. Joseph in Argyle, St. Mary Help of Christians in Glen Haven, St. Mary in Mineral Point and St. Joseph in Sinsinawa. Eberhardy, who was ordained in 1936, died in 1992.
● Kenneth Klubertanz, who was at St. John the Evangelist in Spring Green and St. Malachy in Clyde. Klubertanz, who was ordained in 1966, was removed from ministry in 2002.
● Lawrence Trainor, who was at St. Joseph in Dodgeville, St. John the Baptist in Muscoda and St. Joseph in Avoca. Trainor, who was ordained in 1964, was laicized in 2011.
● Gerald Vosen, who was at St. Joseph in Avoca, St. Malachy in Clyde and Immaculate Conception in Boscobel. Vosen, who was ordained in 1961, was permanently removed from ministry in 2004.
The Diocese of La Crosse’s list includes:
● Raymond Bornbach, who was at St. Anthony de Padua in Cazenovia. Bornbach, who was ordained in 1941, died in 2006.
● Thomas Dempsey, who was at St. Martin Mission in Boaz, St. Wenceslaus in Eastman and St. Philip in Soldiers Grove. Dempsey, who was ordained in 1955, died in 1998.
● James Ennis, who was at St. Aloysius in Hillsboro and St. Wenceslaus in Yuba. Ennis, who was ordained in 1950, died in 2000.
● James Finucan, who was at St. Wenceslaus in Eastman and St. John Nepomucene in Prairie du Chien. Finucan, who was ordained in 1947, died in 2009.
● John Thomas Finucan, who was at Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Richland Center. Finucan, who was ordained in 1955 and served as the president of Viterbo University in La Crosse from 1970 to 1980, died in 2018.
● Thomas Langer, who was at St. Mary in Gays Mills and St. Philip in Rolling Ground. Langer, who was ordained in 1956, died in 2004.
● James E. Mason, who was at Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Richland Center. Mason, who was ordained in 1967, was laicized in 2004.
● James V. O’Connor, who was at Campion High School in Prairie du Chien. O’Connor died in 1981.
● Albert Sonnberger, who was at St. Peter in Middle Ridge, St. Philip in Soldiers Grove and St. Martin in Boaz. Sonnberger, who was ordained in 1956, has been on inactive ministry status since November 2018.
● James Stauber, who was at St. John Nepomucene in Prairie du Chien and St. Mary’s Academy in Prairie du Chien. Stauber, who was ordained in 1959, died in 2010.
● Raymond J. Wagner, who was at St. Anthony de Padua in Cazenovia, St. Wenceslaus in Eastman and St. Mary in Gays Mills. Wagner, who was ordained in 1952, died in 2009.
● Bogdan Werra, who was at Sacred Heart in Lone Rock and St. Anthony de Padua in Cazenovia. Werra, who was ordained in 1981, was suspended from the diocese in 1994.
The list of priests also includes several priests from the Society of Jesus who taught at the former Campion High School in Prairie du Chien, including Francis Nawn, who taught at Campion from 1945 to 1948 and 1955 to 1956 and died in 1992; Arthur Verdieck, who died in 1980; James O’Connor, who died in 1981; Thomas Haller, who was dismissed in 1982 and laicized in 1983; J. Michael Cannon, who was dismissed in 1997; George Pieper, who died in 1998; and J. Roger Lucey, who died in 2002.
— Compiled by Steve Prestegard, The Platteville Journal