Victims Group Plans to Push Clergy Abuse Issue with Candidate

The Associated Press, carried in Duluth News Tribune
August 18, 2004

MILWAUKEE - Advocates for victims of sexual abuse by priests vowed Tuesday night to push the issue with congressional candidate Matt Flynn - a lawyer who represented the Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee in some abuse cases.

Peter Isely, a founding member of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests and the group's Midwest regional director, said his group wants Flynn to respond to its concerns about his role in defending accused priests and the archdiocese.

"We're upset that he has not met with us," Isely said.

He said the group would send Flynn a letter seeking a meeting and also would try to meet with other candidates in the race for the Milwaukee area's 4th District congressional seat. Flynn is running in the Democratic primary Sept. 14.

"We're going to look at neighborhoods in the district that have had priest sex predators, and we'll target and leaflet those neighborhoods with our concerns," Isely said.

The group also will raise the issue at candidate forums, he said.

"We want this issue addressed - child abuse in general and clergy sexual abuse in particular," he said. "We want the candidates to talk about this."

Mark Salmon, 50, of Wauwatosa, said Flynn represented the archdiocese in his case, which involved a Catholic elementary school teacher accused of abusing him and other children in 1964-66.

He said Flynn also helped the archdiocese win a state Supreme Court ruling in 1995 that prevents religious organizations in Wisconsin from being sued in clergy abuse cases.

Isely said the group wanted to know whether Flynn protested church decisions to transfer known sex offenders, and it also wanted to discuss the decision by the archdiocese to seek attorney's fees from some of those who accused clergy members of abuse, even when the abuse was admitted.

Flynn's campaign manager, Eric Hogensen, did not return a call Tuesday night from The Associated Press seeking comment.

When contacted Monday about Isely's concerns, Hogensen had declined to respond, saying the campaign was about "jobs." He also said then that Isely was free to call the campaign to discuss issues at any time.

Isely said Flynn's campaign had canceled a planned meeting earlier this month.

Flynn is in a three-way primary race with state Sens. Tim Carpenter and Gwen Moore.


Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests: