Priest Accused of Flashing Teenage Boy
By Jorge Rodas and Emily Matesic
April 28, 2016
Investigators say they’re searching for any other potential victims of indecent exposure by a retired Catholic priest.
Father Richard Thomas appeared in Brown County court on Thursday accused of flashing a teenage boy multiple times last month.
The priest’s bail was set at $750 cash, though prosecutors asked the court for $5,000.
Thomas, 78, was arrested Wednesday on four felony counts of exposing himself to a minor and made his first court appearance via video conference from the Brown County Jail.
According to the criminal complaint, Thomas exposed himself to a 16-year-old boy on March 14, 15, 16 and 17.
The teen told investigators while he walked to school, past Grellinger Hall in Allouez, he saw a naked man standing in one of the windows. Grellinger Hall is an independent living facility for retired priests.
The complaint says on March 16 the naked man called out “hey” to the teen after using a flashlight to get the boy’s attention.
The boy told managers of the facility.
On April 8, the administrator of the facility said he found Father Thomas in an unoccupied room — where the teen reported seeing him — dressed in a bathrobe and standing in front of a window. Thomas told him he was looking for a place to shower.
“On all four occasions he attempted to get the attention of that person to expose himself and to show himself specifically to that person,” Lt. Jim Valley with the Brown County Sheriff’s Office says.
The complaint goes on to say Thomas was surprised to learn he was being charged with felony crimes, not misdemeanors, because it didn’t involve sexual contact with a person.
The Catholic Diocese of Green Bay released a statement after Thomas’s court appearance, saying it was notified of misconduct involving a retired priest and notified civil authorities. The statement reads in part:
Following the policies of the Diocesan Code of Pastoral Conduct, Father Thomas, a senior (retired) priest, has been restricted from performing any public ministry pending the outcome of the civil authorities’ investigation. This is an ongoing investigation and the Diocese is fully cooperating.
The Diocese asks for prayers for all involved in this matter.
The Diocese remains committed to the protection of children and vulnerable adults. Its policies include permanently removing from ministry any clergy who have a substantiated allegation of abuse of a minor against them.”
Valley says the number of times and the manner in which Thomas is accused of exposing himself makes investigators believe he did it to others, so investigators are reaching out to the public.
“I think it’s important that anybody who this has happened to come forward because how you felt you wouldn’t want someone else to feel that way and it’s the only way we’re going to find out that it happened if you report the crime,” Lt. Valley said.
Thomas’s next court appearance is scheduled for May 9.