Man Alleges Abuse by Chippewa Falls Priest

By Candy Czernicki
September 19, 2008

CHIPPEWA FALLS - A 34-year-old Eau Claire man Wednesday filed a lawsuit in Chippewa County Court alleging he was sexually abused by a priest between 1979 and 1986 at St. Bridget Catholic Church southeast of Chippewa Falls.

James J. Kaufman, 728 Second Ave., named the church at 2801 N. 110th St., the Diocese of La Crosse - the administrative district in which the church is located - and a priest referred to only as John Doe.

Kaufman is seeking a formal apology, damages for the cost of his past and future psychological treatment, long-term emotional damage, loss of childhood, failure to fulfill potential, difficulty with interpersonal relationships and court costs.

He also has requested a $22,000 cash settlement, $1,000 for each year he has had to cope with those issues.

Kaufman lived in rural Fall Creek at the time of the alleged abuse.

On several occasions, Kaufman alleged, the priest told him to do sexually inappropriate things to prove that he was "a good Catholic boy."

Kaufman did not tell anyone of the abuse until it emerged through psychological counseling in 2007, the lawsuit said.

In addition to several emotional disorders, he alleged in court documents that the incidents brought about a hatred and distrust of authority figures (including clergy), social isolation, criminality, distorted and deviant thinking regarding sex and flashbacks to the events.

Kaufman has an extensive criminal record, including a 1997 conviction in Eau Claire County Court for first-degree sexual assault of a child.

Two other counts of soliciting a child for prostitution were dismissed in that case but considered in sentencing. Kaufman received 20 years of probation.

In 1998 he was convicted in Eau Claire County of possessing child pornography and of child exploitation through videos. He pleaded guilty to both charges and was sentenced to a total of nine years in prison.

No further court date has been set.

Czernicki can be reached at 723-0303 or


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