Priest Is Convicted of Sexual Assaults
By Daniel J. Lehmann
Oshkosh, Wis. - The Rev. Norbert J. Maday, a Chicago Archdiocese priest just a week shy of the 30th anniversary of his ordination, was found guilty Friday of criminal sexual assault.
The Winnebago County Circuit Court jury of seven women and five men took three hours to convict Maday of molesting two boys at a religious retreat here in 1986.
He sat expressionless while the verdict was read, saying later that he plans to appeal.
Maday's mother, Katherine, 86, said she remained "absolutely" convinced of his innocence. She attended every day of the trial, taking a front-row seat directly behind her son.
"It was a one-sided, unfair trial, and I hope that they can live with their consciences," she said.
After the verdict, Maday read a statement reiterating his claim that his trial had been unfair and saying he was "very, very disappointed" with the verdict.
District Attorney Joseph F. Paulus said: "A couple of kids who had a bad experience several years ago decided it was time to tell the truth, and I think the jury recognized that in clear terms."
Maday, who remains free on a $ 15,000 cash bond, faces up to 10 years in prison and a $ 10,000 fine on each of three sexual assault counts and five years and a $ 10,000 fine for intimidating a victim. Judge William E. Crane scheduled sentencing for June 8.
Maday, who the archdiocese said would stay on administrative leave and under its supervision, is the second Chicago Archdiocese priest to be convicted of criminal sexual assault in two years. Robert Mayer was found guilty in Cook County in December, 1992, of molesting a teenage girl. He resigned the priesthood late last year, a church spokesman said, and is appealing his conviction.
In response to the Maday verdict, the archdiocese said it is "saddened and concerned for the young men who brought the allegations, their families, the people of Our Lady of the Ridge Parish and Father Maday and hopes that the resolution of the legal process will aid in their healing."
Maday, 56, who did not testify during the eight-day trial, was accused of molesting two boys, then 13 and 14 years old, in separate outings to a retreat center here called the Place 2B. The victims, now 20 and 22, were members of Our Lady of the Ridge parish in Chicago Ridge, where Maday served as associate pastor.
He also was charged with threatening to kill the brother of one of the victims if he told anyone.
"I fully expected a conviction the moment that the judge decided that the defense could not put into evidence the backgrounds" of Maday's accusers, defense attorney Stephen M. Komie of Chicago said.
The first accuser came up with his allegation in an attempt to patch up a fight with a girlfriend in 1992, Komie said in his closing argument.
"And then the train is leaving the station for Oshkosh," he said.
Others immediately jumped aboard with additional false allegations, he said, drawn by media attention and hoping for cash settlements with the archdiocese.
But Paulus said Maday deliberately set out to gain the confidence of the boys and their families, ultimately to sexually abuse the boys.
"The truth for this defendant is painful. Because it means he did something wrong and something here in Wisconsin that's a crime," Paulus said.
There was no physical evidence in the trial, or any eyewitnesses. However, three witnesses for the prosecution and two for the defense said they were on one of the trips. But each offered different accounts of who was there and what they did. Some said Maday wrestled with them in his underwear, while others said no such event took place. Some said Maday sought and gave back rubs, and others said that wasn't true.
Komie said the judge's restrictions, preventing him from introducing evidence about the accusers' criminal records, drug abuse by one and the factually impossible claim of the other, had doomed the case.
The case sparked controversy after Crane allowed prosecutors to introduce allegations that Maday abused one of his accusers twice in Chicago Ridge and abused two other men while he served at St. Bede the Venerable parish, 8200 S. Kostner. Maday was not charged in those allegations.
Crane then refused to let the jury hear testimony that a video with a seduction scene that one accuser said Maday used during an alleged fondling incident was not released until 1 1/2 years after the claimed abuse took place.
The trial ended on a sharp note as well. Oshkosh Police Detective Gerald Forseth told reporters after the verdict that he "found victims at every single church" but one where Maday had served.
"I find it hard, very hard to believe that the Chicago diocese did not know that. . . . And after every time somebody accused him, he was moved every single time," Forseth said.
A spokesman for the archdiocese said, "If the police officer has information, we would appreciate it if he would share it with us."
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