Democratic Governor Candidate Matt Flynn Says He Didn't Know Former Priest Was Seeking Counseling License
By Patrick Marley
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
May 10, 2018
|Matt Flynn is a Democrat running for governor.|
Under fire for defending the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, candidate for governor Matt Flynn on Wednesday said he did not know at the time that a priest convicted of molesting a boy had gone on to get a license as a counselor.
“If I had known, I would have intervened with that licensing agency and said, ‘No way, why didn’t you do a criminal background check?’ ” Flynn told reporters Wednesday.
Flynn — one of 10 candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for governor — was responding to criticism from victims advocates for his handling of the church's treatment of Father James Arimond, who was convicted of fourth-degree sexual assault of a teenager in 1990.
“Wisconsin deserves so much better than this,” said a statement from Sarah Pearson, co-chairwoman of Women's March Wisconsin. “At minimum, Wisconsin’s next governor should be someone who can be trusted to protect children from abusers. Matt Flynn is not that person.”
Pearson's statement was issued in conjunction with the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests and the Madison and Wisconsin chapters of the National Organization for Women.
Arimond pleaded no contest and was sentenced to 18 months of probation and 45 days in jail with work-release privileges. He went on to get a counseling license, which was revoked after the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel wrote about it in 2002.
Flynn said Arimond resigned from the priesthood after he was told he would be fired if he didn’t quit. Flynn said he was allowed to receive his vested pension benefits, as required by law, as well as a $25,000 severance payment.
Such a severance payment is “very, very common, much less than we have in private industry,” Flynn told reporters.
He said he did not know Arimond was going to go into counseling.
“I did not know what he was doing when he got out,” Flynn said. “We don’t track people obviously when they leave. And I question why a criminal background check wasn’t done on him (by regulators). He was turned in, he was thrown out (of the priesthood).”
Flynn submitted signatures Wednesday so they he can get on the ballot, making him the first candidate to do so. Paperwork is due June 1.
Also seeking the Democratic nomination are liberal talk radio host Mike Crute; state Schools Superintendent Tony Evers; Milwaukee businessman Andy Gronik; liberal activist Mike McCabe; firefighters union chief Mahlon Mitchell; former state Rep. Kelda Roys of Madison; Madison Mayor Paul Soglin;, state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout of Alma; and state Rep. Dana Wachs of Eau Claire.
The winner of the Aug. 14 primary will face GOP Gov. Scott Walker.