San Diego priest accused of molesting teenager arrested in Wisconsin

News Summary/February 17, 2007

By Rick Ross

Criminal charges were filed in San Diego May 9, 2003 against Rev. Franklyn Becker for allegedly molesting a teenage boy in the late 1970s at St. Brigid Catholic Church in Pacific Beach.

The, 65-year-old was taken into custody at his residence in Mayville, Wisconsin.

The complaint was filed by a 41-year-old California resident who said that the molestation occurred when he was a 15-year-old student at St. Augustine, a Catholic high school in North Park.

"He had some idea I was gay, which I am," the former student told the San Diego Union-Tribune.

"It was definitely unwanted," the now middle aged man said. "I didn't know what to do about it. Here I am a high school kid and I didn't want anyone to know. I didn't want to come out to my parents. I felt very alone."

"This man took advantage of me," he said.

Rev. Lloyd Bourgeois was pastor at St. Brigid when Becker was there, and said that he sent the priest back to Wisconsin.

"I didn't feel comfortable working with him," he said. "There was something about him. He was very secretive about things."

Bourgeois said. "We're supposed to be ministers of the gospel, ministers of peace. This cuts me to the quick."

"Just the fact that he was able to be arrested is very important and significant for victims of clergy abuse here," said Peter Isely, of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests who lives in the Milwaukee area.

Becker was ordained May 30, 1964 and served as a curate at Holy Assumption in West Allis, Wisconsin, as associate pastor at St. John Nepomuc, Holy Family, St. Margaret Mary and St. John parishes in the Milwaukee area. His other assignments included chaplain at West Allis Memorial Hospital from Nov. 6, 1984 through Oct. 1, 1991.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego first learned of the allegation against Becker at St. Brigid in April 2002, said diocesan spokesman Rodrigo Valdivia. The diocese then turned his name over to the District Attorney's Office, along with about two dozen other priests, in July at the request of then-District Attorney Paul Pfingst.

The Milwaukee archdiocese removed Becker from ministry on July 22, 2002, its Milwaukee spokesman said.

Milwaukee's Archbishop Rembert Weakland resigned after admitting he paid a $450,000 secret settlement to a man that accused him of sexual assault.

During 2002 325 U.S. priests under investigation either dismissed or resigned.

Note: This news summary is based upon an article titled "Sex abuse charges filed against priest" by Susan Gembrowski and Sandi Dolbee published by the San Diego Union-Tribune May 10, 2003

Copyright © 2007 Rick Ross.

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