Priest Accused Of Abuse Moved From Parish To Parish

TMJ 4 News, Milwaukee/February 1, 2008

St. Francis - They knew he was accused of abusing kids, but the Milwaukee Archdiocese kept moving an accused pedophile priest from parish to parish.

The allegations couldn't have come at a worse time for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. They say they're facing a $3 million budget deficit and the sale of the Cousins Center has fallen through, and now, a long cover-up of alleged abuse is out in the open.

Thursday, hundreds of documents detailing alleged abuse by former priest Franklyn Becker were released. His alleged victims say it's about time.

"The privacy rights of criminal priests matter more than the rights of these little ones," alleged victim Nick Jordan said.

There are 800 pages, including complaints from parents and a diagnosis of Becker as a pedophile. One letter written by Becker to then Archbishop Weakland says, "the frequent presence of teenage boys in the house at night was tantalizing to say the least."

The Archdiocese now admits to having reports of Becker's abuse from as far back as the 1970's, but very little was done to stop it.

He was sent to nine different parishes in southeastern Wisconsin over 20 years. Becker was finally restricted from ministry in 2002. Months later, he was arrested for sexual assault.

Archbishop Timothy Dolan addressed the cover-up in a letter parishioners, "I have to admit, these decisions are a particularly ugly example of how the church made some dreadful mistakes in its handling of these cases."

Dolan says he is being open about Becker so the church can move on and get back to doing good work, but victims' advocates say this should have been released years ago.

"You have an individual here who is an untreatable, unpunished, and unrepentant criminal pedophile," SNAP's Peter Isely said.

One of the documents shows that former district attorney E. Michael McCann was told about complaints against an unnamed priest and he advised the church to keep the priest away from children.

McCann vehemently denies that he was told about any abuse. He says there were no allegations of a crime in that discussion.

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