Leader Says Victims Will Get Help
December 20, 1992
Father Kenneth Reinhart, head of the Capuchin province that covers much of the Midwest, including Wisconsin, said he and the others who govern the province are committed to doing what they can for victims of sexual abuse by clergy.
However, in an interview with The Journal on Friday, he said he had limited knowledge of incidents that others say were reported to Capuchin authorities before he became head of the province in 1987. He also told The Journal that he knows of two men other
than those interviewed by The Journal who claim they had sexual contact with Father Gale Leifeld, former principal of St. Lawrence Seminary preparatory school.
Reinhart said that when he learned of allegations against Leifeld in 1989, he spent time with the alleged victim and told him to encourage other victims to come forward. He told Leifeld of the allegations. He said Leifeld was told to undergo a full medical and psychological evaluation.
Reinhart said the priest was allowed to continue to live alone in a home in Shorewood after the allegations, to work at St. Robert Catholic Church there and to hold a job at the Sacred Heart School of Theology in Franklin.
Reinhart denied that a letter written by J. Peter Isely and published in The Milwaukee Journal on Nov. 14 caused him to take further action regarding Leifeld. Reinhart said the letter solidified the belief that action was needed but that allegations of others actually prompted the action.
However, after Isely's letter appeared, Reinhart wrote Isely and told him that he was informing Archbishop Rembert Weakland of the details of Isely's allegations. Weakland and Reinhart met Nov. 30, Reinhart said. Leifeld was placed in treatment Dec. 1 and told he could not function as a priest.
Reinhart said the province was preparing a letter that would be sent to all St. Lawrence alumni that will explain what was happening and asking anyone who knows of incidents to contact the province at (313) 579-9032. Allegations, he said, would be handled confidentially.
Students at the school are told that allegations of sex abuse will be acted on, Reinhart said.
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