Archdiocese Removes Priest from Ministry Due to Report of Sexual Assault of a Minor
By John Pilmaier
March 17, 2012
In an e-mail message today (see below), Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki announced that Fr. Mark Molling, pastor of St. Paul Parish in Genesee Depot, was being removed from ministry this weekend due to a report of sexual assaulting a minor. Listecki states that the report was obtained through the Chapter 11 bankruptcy claims process and that the diocesan review board will investigate the matter. The alleged offense or offenses occurred in the mid 1990's and appear to be time barred from prosecution under the old criminal statues for child sex abuse. Molling has worked in the Wisconsin Juvenile Corrections Division as resident chaplain at Ethan Allen School for Boys in Wales.
A total of 570 victim claims have been filed with the Federal Bankruptcy Court, each claim being a criminal report of sexual abuse. Molling appears to be one of the at least 100 unidentified sexual offenders who committed at least 8,000 instances of sexual abuse against children in the archdiocese, as was reported in bankruptcy court last month. Why Molling was removed from ministry while other alleged offenders named in the bankruptcy reports have not, remains unclear. In the past, sometimes the archbishop removes a priest from ministry before a determination is made by the DA on the criminal statute, sometimes not.
The people of St. Paul's Parish deserve a careful but timely investigation of the complaint or complaints against Molling, as well as expert assistance, education and outreach about clerical sexual abuse. What they do not deserve is the kind of fiasco which occurred when the archdiocese removed members of the clergy over the past year, such as Fr. Nowak of Kenosha, and especially Fr. Laurin Wenig of Elm Grove.
Nowak was removed from ministry for reports of sexual abuse against a minor for which he later served jail time. On the weekend of his removal the parish secretary of St. Therese of Lisieux in Kenosha went before the television cameras to proclaim Nowak's innocence, while the archdiocese remained silent. Wenig was allowed by Listecki to distribute a statement that he himself had written to the people of St. Mary's Visitation in Elm Grove in which he, too, declared his innocence. The following week, at a question and answer forum held at the parish, an archdiocesan official, Deacon David Zimprich, assured parishioners that Wenig had the right to sue his reported victim for defamation. It has now been more than a year and other reports of sexual abuse by Wenig have surfaced, yet there has been no formal determination of his case and he still remains listed at the Pastor.
At the time of Wenig's removal from St. Mary's Parish, Archbishop Listecki also announced that a retired priest had been removed from ministry due to a report of sexual abuse of a minor. Listecki has still not informed the public of the identity of this individual.
E-mail from Archbishop Jerome Listecki:
March 17, 2012
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Today I write to inform you that we have received an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor about a diocesan priest currently in active ministry. The allegation dates back to the mid-1990's and was reported through the Chapter 11 process.
Per archdiocesan policy, the allegation was reported to the appropriate district attorney for review. The district attorney has declined to prosecute and we are, therefore, beginning our own process. The priest is on temporary administrative leave during the course of the process, as outlined in archdiocesan policy:
The parish will be notified at all Masses this weekend and so this will become public knowledge and will most likely be covered in the news media. Because of that, I want to let you know that the priest involved is Father Mark Molling, pastor of St. Paul Parish in Genesee Depot.
Father Molling denies the allegation and I must remind everyone that no substantiation of the allegation has occurred. An investigation will move forward using a professional, independent investigator with the investigative report delivered to the Diocesan Review Board.
Please join me in praying for all involved in this process.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world's oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We've been around for 23 years and have more than 10,000 members. 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.