Archdiocese Exonerates Accused Priest
By Annysa Johnson
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
January 29, 2013
A Waukesha priest accused of sexually abusing a minor three decades ago has been cleared by Archbishop Jerome Listecki of any wrongdoing and returned to ministry earlier this month, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee confirmed this week.
Father John Schreiter had been placed on leave in June, two weeks before he was to retire from St. John Neumann Parish. The allegation had surfaced as part of the archdiocese's bankruptcy.
Schreiter denied the allegations.
His case was turned over to the local district attorney's office, which declined to prosecute, presumably because it was beyond the statute of limitations. However that could not be immediately confirmed. And the archdiocese's abuse review board, headed by former Lt. Gov. Margaret Farrow, found the allegations to be unsubstantiated, said Jerry Topczewski, Listecki's chief of staff.
Schreiter, who has moved to Arizona, retired as scheduled in June. Listecki notified him of his reinstatement on Jan. 17, according to an announcement in the St. John Neumann parish bulletin. There was no public announcement by the archdiocese.
The advocacy group Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests criticized the move as secretive and reflective of the policy in La Crosse -- where Listecki last served -- to side with priests over victims. They point to a 2004 review by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, which found that La Crosse exonerated clergy in 64% of cases from 1950 to 2002, compared with the national average of under 10%.
It was the second accusation of which Schreiter was cleared by the archdiocese.
In April 2004, he was placed on a leave of absence from St. Bruno's Parish in Dousman after someone claimed to have been abused by him in Sauk County as an 18-year-old about 25 years earlier. He was later cleared by the review board and returned to ministry by then Archbishop Timothy Dolan.
Schreiter is the second priest exonerated by the archdiocese over the last year. Father Mark Molling was returned to ministry at St. Paul Parish in Genesee Depot in May, two months after he was accused of abusing a boy in the 1990s at Ethan Allen School for Boys. The case of third priest, Father Laurin Wenig of St. Mary's Parish in Elm Grove, is pending before the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Topczewski said there is one case still pending before the review board. The archdiocese generally does not release information about cases to protect the reputations of priests whose charges are unsubstantiated, according to Topczewski. The exception is when a priest is removed from an active ministry, he said, "because there is no way around it."
"A parish pastor cannot just disappear for months without the people knowing why," he said