Charged, Retired Priest Says He Was "Already Seeking Treatment"
By Andrew Lacombe
April 29, 2016
A volunteer with a support group for people abused by priests is raising questions after Rev. Richard Thomas, a retired Diocese of Green Bay priest, was charged Thursday for allegedly exposing himself four times last month to a 16-year-old boy when the boy was walking to school.
Thomas was living in Grellinger Hall, a home for retired priests in Allouez.
According to the criminal complaint, Thomas told investigators at the time of his arrest that "he is already seeking treatment."
"Why was he already in it if this was his first experience with some kind of sexual impropriety?" asked Alice Hodek.
Hodek is the Green Bay coordinator the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP).
"I'd like to know if there have been allegations against him before," said Hodek.
In a statement, the diocese says it is fully cooperating in the investigation.
"Father Thomas, a senior (retired) priest, has been restricted from performing any public ministry pending the outcome of the civil authorities' investigation," reads part of the statement.
A diocese spokeswoman said the diocese had no further comment and would not answer questions about Thomas' statement on seeking treatment.
Lt. Jim Valley of the Brown County Sheriff's Office wants to raise awareness about the accusations.
"Do we only have one victim out there? We're really concerned that there may be other victims out there," said Valley.
Valley says anyone with information on this case or other should call the sheriff's office at (920) 448-4200 and request the investigative division.
"I think anytime you have someone that's being victimized with someone else exposing themselves to them, especially randomly, we have to be concerned," said Valley.
Hodek says Thomas is not a name she's heard during more than a decade of work.
"I actually go over some of the victims I've spoken to in the past, and there's names that they mention," said Hodek. "Lots of them mention names. And some of them are names we'd all recognize of convicted priests. But some are people you only hear of once or twice. But Fr. Thomas was not a name I had heard of previously."
Thomas is charged with four felonies.
FOX 11 left messages for his defense attorney, but those messages were not returned by Friday evening.
Thomas was released after paying a $750 bond and is scheduled to be back in court for a preliminary hearing May 9.