Money Given to Clergyman Accused of Sexual Abuse Questioned
September 7, 2006

Milwaukee -- A local advocate group for the survivors of sexual abuse from clergy members is questioning a $10,000 payment to a former clergyman accused of sexually abusing young boys.

The Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests (SNAP) released a videotaped deposition Thursday as part of an $18 million settlement last week between nine abuse victims and the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.

The videotape includes a confession by former clergyman Franklyn Becker. Becker said he was transferred from parish to parish in the 1970s and '80s, despite allegations of sexual encounters with teenage boys. He said he was even posted at parishes with others who shared his desires.

"I was stationed with a classmate of mine who also had a predilection for teenage boys," Becker said on the tape, which was recorded last month.

At one point while still a priest in the 1980s, Becker said he sent for information from the "Man-Boy Love Association," a group advocating sexual relations between men and boys. That led to an FBI investigation.

"I had a visitor from the FBI at my apartment. I was taken aback by it. Well, the only reason was I had heard about the organization, I was curious and had sent for their mailing and was on their mailing list," Becker said.

After the arrival of Archbishop Timothy Dolan, Becker was removed from active ministry in 2002. He was completely removed from the priesthood in 2004 by Pope John Paul II.

Upon his release from the archdiocese, Becker was given $10,000 to cover expenses until his Medicaid supplements began.

Victims' advocates are questioning the money.

"I don't think people donating to the archdiocese are going to be very happy to hear that this man was given any money. For what? He is rewarded. Is it a pension? Is he given a severance? Is this a bonus?" abuse victims' advocate Peter Isely said.

Late Thursday, Dolan released a statement in response, writing, "For anyone to assert that this money was a payoff or occurred in exchange for Becker agreeing to leave the priesthood is completely false, preposterous, and unjust. What this was, instead, was an act of charity, in-line with Catholic Social Teaching, that allowed a person to obtain health insurance coverage he simply could not afford on his own. If people want to criticize me for that charity, so be it."

The archbishop maintains the clergy is doing everything possible to prevent clergy sexual abuse in the future.

Becker, who now lives in a Mayville apartment, was never charged with any crime. A number of people came forward years later alleging abuse, and he was arrested a few years ago for a California case, but the statute of limitations had expired in all cases and he was released.


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