Priest Molestation Victim Rejects Settlement
Schauer Suit Alleges Diocese Knew of Buzanowski's Behavior
By Andy Nelesen
Green Bay Press-Gazette
October 6, 2006
A man molested by a priest in the late '80s rejected on Thursday a $350,000 settlement offer from the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay and its insurance company, according to a letter filed with the court.
David Schauer, 28, of Marshfield has sued the diocese, Ss. Peter and Paul School, and Hawkeye Security Insurance Co. alleging that the diocese and school officials were aware that then-Rev. Donald Buzanowski preyed on boys and failed to protect students. Buzanowski was convicted in July 2005 of fondling Schauer during counseling sessions at the school in the fall of 1988.
Schauer's decision was included in a letter from the diocese's lawyers updating Brown County Circuit Court Judge Mark Warpinski on recent settlement talks. Efforts to reach Schauer Thursday were unsuccessful.
Schauer's suit also alleges that Rev. David Kiefer, then vicar of priests for the diocese, told the Schauers to keep quiet or face the possibility of legal action if they went public with their allegations against Buzanowski. They also allege that the Green Bay diocese concealed information about Buzanowski that prevented criminal prosecution in 1990. The suit seeks unspecified damages.
The diocese has denied any wrongdoing.
Buzanowski has since been defrocked and is serving a 32-year prison term at the Dodge Correctional Institution.
Warpinski initially dismissed Schauer's suit because the time limits to bring legal action had expired. However, the state Court of Appeals resurrected the case by ruling that a jury must decide if the diocese's actions — threats or promises — kept the Schauers from initiating legal action before the statute of limitations expired.
The case is set to go before a jury in Warpinski's court on Monday. The trial will revolve exclusively on whether church leaders had an impact on the Schauers' decision to file a lawsuit and how that affected the statute of limitations.
But before that can begin, the lawyers will be in court today to argue whether a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter must surrender her notes and testify about how she obtained a letter from Buzanowski to a friend in which he admits to molesting 14 boys between the ages of 14 and 17 in the 1970s and '80s.
Schauer filed his civil suit April 10, 2003 — 16 days after the reporter published her story about Buzanowski, which included excerpts of the letter and an interview with the Schauer family.
The newspaper has filed a motion to quash the subpoena citing a journalistic privilege. The reporter has provided copies of all publicly available material to Schauer's lawyers, according to the motion.
Attorney Joe Thornton, who represents the Journal Sentinel, argues that the subpoena is too broad and that Schauer's lawyers have not exhausted other means to obtain the information before requiring the reporter to appear.
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