Green Bay Judge Suddenly Schedules Unusual Hearing in Child Molestation Case
On Monday, He'll Hear Arguments on Whether He's Biased and Should Step Aside
November 4, 2006
Green Bay, Wis., Nov. 4 /PRNewswire/ -- A Green Bay Judge has set an unusual court hearing for this Monday in a civil child molestation case involving an abusive Catholic priest who is behind bars.
Brown County Circuit Court Judge Mark Warpinski has been asked to recuse himself from the case by the victim's attorney for alleged bias. Monday's hearing will focus strictly on this issue.
Attorney Jeff Anderson of St. Paul, who has handled hundreds of clergy sex abuse cases, has filed a motion asking Warpinski, a Catholic, to step aside in a molestation case filed against Fr. Donald Buzanowski and the Green Bay Catholic diocese. The plaintiff is David Schauer of Marshfield.
According to documents filed in the case, Warpinski was "an agent of the diocese" at the same time Buzanowski worked at Sts. Peter and Paul church, but didn't disclose this fact, or other close ties to Catholic officials, until after he'd made repeated rulings that appear to favor the church over the victim.
On Friday, Warpinski set the hearing for Monday at 3:40 p.m. He has given each side six minutes to make their case, and four minutes of rebuttal.
"These serious allegations of bias against this judge are troubling, as is the sudden and unusual timing of this hearing," said Peter Isely of Milwaukee, a national board member with SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. "This brave victim deserves an objective process and has already suffered because the judge released information about confidential settlement discussions."
Last month, Warpinski put, in a publicly accessible file, information about settlement talks between the two parties. The information later appeared in a newspaper story, and Warpinski said it had been a mistake.
Court papers cite Warpinski's years as President of the Board of Education for Notre Dame Academy, a Catholic school that gets financial support from the diocese, as evidence of bias. He also notes that Warpinski quickly tossed out Schauer's case, a decision that was overturned by an appeals court.
That court instructed Warpinski to allow Schauer to do discovery, but Warpinski told Schauer's attorney that he could ask only five questions of church officials.
"It's very rare that a clergy molestation case goes to trial, especially in Wisconsin," said David Clohessy of St. Louis, national director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. "It's even more rare that a judge in such a case is asked to recuse himself. We hope he does so."
For the official court page on Monday's hearing, cut and paste the link into your web browser. http://wcca.wicourts.gov/caseDetails.do;jsessionid=48C68716BEC7CD376E06EA0D5F8 C7653.render1?caseNo=2003CV000628&countyNo=5&cacheId=DD2D1129EC2E70B289766816A 7609667&recordCount=2&offset=1
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the nation's oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We've been around for 17 years and have more than 7,000 members across the country. Despite the word "priest" in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)
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