|Former BD Priest Convicted
By Aaron Martin
Beaver Dam Daily Citizen
August 16, 2008
JUNEAU — A former Catholic priest was convicted Friday of sexually assaulting three girls while he worked as a chaplain at St. Joseph's Hospital in Beaver Dam in the 1960s and 70s.
Bruce Duncan MacArthur, 86, pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual intercourse with a child, two counts of indecent behavior with a child, one count of attempted indecent behavior with a child and he entered an Alford plea on an additional count of indecent behavior with a child.
Dodge County Circuit Judge Brian Pfitzinger sentenced MacArthur to six months in jail and 10 years of probation. Pfitzinger also ordered MacArthur to serve an additional 30 days in jail to begin on Aug. 15 for each of the next six years. Pfitizinger said that component of the sentence was because he wanted "the year to go by with you (MacArthur) thinking about it as much as they (the victims) have thought about the crimes committed upon them."
Pfitzinger also stayed a 75-year prison sentence and honored a request from one of the victims, now 53 years old, that MacArthur must meet with her at least 10 times for two hours to discuss the assaults.
"When I look at this case, the most aggravating factor is that absolute violation of trust, and how, sir, you brought yourself into at least one of these families under the guise of trust . . . and then you took that trust and you used it to destroy, not to be positive. That's what I look at," Pfitzinger said.
For the past four years, MacArthur has been living at a recon center called Evergreen Hills
Home located on a 280-acre lot in rural Missouri.
"It's a monitored, permanent residence for priests who can't go back into ministry for various reasons," said Mark Matousek, a director of the center.
Matousek said MacArthur undergoes counseling there and never leaves the facility unattended — which Pfitzinger made a condition of his probation.
Alex Flynn, MacArthur's attorney, said MacArthur suffers from Alzheimer's disease and heart ailments, and that "Bruce MacArthur will die in the very near future and the only thing he can do at this point to make up for what he did is hopefully convey peace and solace to the victims for what he's done."
District Attorney Bill Bedker also focused his sentencing recommendations with the victims in the case in mind.
"Given the passage of approximately four decades, that alters, to some degree, the traditional sentencing analysis the court is required to go through," Bedker said. "My approach under these circumstances was to have a victim-centered approach. At this point in time, 40 years later, what do these victims need?
"One thing we owe the victims in this case is to give them some assurance, to the extent the criminal justice system can do that, that this sort of thing will not happen again. That this defendant will not create more victims in the remaining time he has on the face of this Earth."
Bedker and Flynn both recommended a period of incarceration, a lifetime of supervision and meetings one of the victims requested with MacArthur as a sentence.
The 53-year-old victim read, in part, from a prepared statement, "Father MacArthur used his position as a priest to gain the trust of my family in order to psychologically abuse me. He used his role as a priest to take over my life from grade school through high school. . . in my innocence, I completely trusted him."
She also stated that "I pray each morning for God to take away the sadness and emotional scars that are deep within me. I harbor no unforgiveness toward Father MacArthur, and most importantly, I pray that he will repent, if he hasn't already, so he will be right with the Lord."
When MacArthur was asked if he'd like to address the court, he replied, "I'd just like to pray for everyone."
MacArthur was taken into custody immediately following the approximate two-hour plea and sentencing hearing. The first one-on-one meeting with his 53-year-old victim immediately followed at the Dodge County Jail.
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