|Sawyer County Abuse Victim Wants Charges for Former Priest
By Jacob Kittilstad
July 21, 2010
DULUTH - Paul Eck's says that after his senior homecoming dance in the early 1980s, he never imagined the priest he trusted would take advantage of him.
"There was never any sign. Now, granted, I was 17. I was naive. I was still a virgin for christ's sake," Eck said.
Drunk after partying, Paul says he was convinced by the Reverend Tom Ericksen to stay at the church in Winter, Wisconsin.
"He was basically setting me up for his golden opportunity," Eck said. "I just remember him being next to the bed, laying down."
Now, thirty years later, he says he wants the Sawyer County District Attorney to press charges. In the same year, Eck and his 7-year-old nephew were both abused by Ericksen.
"He was removed about a month later. He was actually caught in the rectory with my nephew and another young boy," Eck said.
The Survivor Network for those Abused by Priests (S.N.A.P.) says they support Eck's push for a criminal trial.
"Ericksen is still there, his victims are still there. It's just as if this abuse happened yesterday," S.N.A.P. representative Bob Schwiterski said.
Recent interpretations of Wisconsin state law may mean the de-frocked priest, now living in Missouri, may face jail time.
"The statute of limitation on a sex crime at that time was only five years but if the suspect left the state and moved to another state then the statute basically froze," Eck said.
Erickson's diocese in Superior settled with the family for 3 million dollars in 1989. The priest adamantly denies raping any children but admits to fondling and other inappropriate actions.
"I've forgiven him but what I can't do is forgive myself if I don't step forward and have an opportunity here to put him away," Eck said.
Last week, the Special Olympics of Kansas suspended Ericksen from volunteering with their organization after the abuse allegations surfaced.
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