Archdiocese Funds Find Way Back Home

By Jim Stingl
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel [Wisconsin]
May 24, 2007

Nick Jordan was a somewhat reluctant subject of this column.

He is a California survivor of clergy abuse, and I had heard through the grapevine that he was quietly giving money he received in a court settlement out there to agencies in Wisconsin that help sexual assault victims.

I thought this was worth sharing, especially with those who think people suing the church are just out for the money.

Jordan was surprised when I contacted him this week. "I feel awkward talking about my giving," he said.

I told him I was most interested in knowing why he was spreading cash around so far from home.

He said most of the money he received came from the Milwaukee Archdiocese and its insurer, and it weighs on his mind that he was able to collect a monetary settlement when survivors in Wisconsin are prevented by law from suing.

"One of the people I met with said those who have been raped by priests have been raped body and soul, and that's true. My heart goes out to people who are struggling with their lives on a physical but also on an interpersonal and spiritual level because of what's happened to them," Jordan said.

He traveled to Wisconsin this year to meet with leaders of several agencies and was impressed by what he heard and saw. He had been to Milwaukee previously to tell his story at a listening session run by the archdiocese.

Jordan, 45, of San Diego, came forward in 2002 and said he had been repeatedly molested by Father Franklyn Becker in 1977 when Jordan was 15 years old and working in the office at St. Brigid Catholic Church in a San Diego suburb.

"No one will believe you over a priest," he remembers Becker saying to him.

Becker had served in the Milwaukee area, where he's also accused of sexual abuse, and then he relocated to California. He's now 69 years old, booted out of the priesthood and living in Wisconsin.

Jordan's suit was lumped in with nine other survivors of clergy sexual abuse in California, all victims of Father Siegfried Widera, who also had come there from Wisconsin. Widera left the priesthood and committed suicide.

Victims have accused the Milwaukee Archdiocese of concealing the priests' histories of sexual abuse, enabling them to keep right on doing it.

Jordan's settlement was $2 million, but after the lawyers' cut he received about $1.2 million.

He is giving 10% of that, or about $120,000, to The Healing Center and the Sexual Assault Treatment Center, both in Milwaukee; The Counseling Center of Milwaukee; and the Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault in Madison.

"It's an interesting story that he'd be willing to do that. It's so gratifying," said Maryann Clesceri, director at The Healing Center, which relies mostly on donations.

Jordan has taken a negative situation and turned it on its head to help other survivors, said Daniel Magnuson, director at The Counseling Center of Milwaukee. "He wanted to take these resources and get them into the community where the priest was and to provide some healing," he said.

It may surprise you that Jordan's Catholic faith has not been shaken by what happened to him. In fact, he's thinking about trading in his life in the movie industry and becoming a priest himself. He plans to spend this summer working with a religious order.

"God has blessed me at this point, so my position is, why not give back. That's what I'm called to do."

Call Jim Stingl at (414) 224-2017 or e-mail


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