Lawsuit Accuses Priest, Church in Abuse

Associated Press/May 17, 2005

Milwaukee -- A man filed a lawsuit Monday alleging he was molested by a priest as an altar boy in 1982 and that church officials knew the priest had sexually abused other boys in the past.

The lawsuit, filed by Charles Linneman, 36, of Sugar Grove, Ill., named the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, former priest Franklyn Becker and an insurance company.

Linneman contends he was sexually abused at the age of 14 in Becker's living quarters at a Milwaukee-area parish. The lawsuit, seeking unspecified damages, alleges that Becker had previously molested other boys, causing church officials to transfer him to a parish in California and then back to Wisconsin again.

Charges were filed against Becker in 2003 accusing him of molesting a boy in a San Diego parish in 1978. The charges were dismissed after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a law that allowed prosecution of decades-old sex abuse allegations.

Becker has denied all allegations of sexual abuse. He said he was not aware of the latest lawsuit and had no comment about it.

He has not been charged with clergy abuse in Wisconsin.

The archdiocese issued a statement in which it said it had permanently restricted Becker from the ministry in 2002, and that it had been open about Becker's situation when he was arrested and charged in California the following year.

Becker was included in a July 2004 list of priests restricted from all priestly ministry. He was dismissed from the clergy in December 2004.

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