Sex Victim's Father Says Priest Betrayed Family
July 21, 1993
A man who initially defended his parish priest from accusations of molesting children helped send Rev. William Effinger to prison for 10 years after learning he sexually assaulted the man's own son.
"We were devastated," the man said in an interview. "We had this trust. That's the whole thing - it was the betrayal of that trust that's so devastating."
Effinger, 60, was due to be transferred to Dodge County Correctional Institution today after being sentenced to the 10-year term Monday by Circuit Judge Gary Langhoff.
Effinger pleaded no contest to second-degree sexual assault. He was accused of assaulting the 14-year-old boy between Nov. 1, 1987, and March 31, 1988.
The priest has also been named in civil lawsuits by eight people accusing him of similar incidents and alleging the church knew he was an alcoholic and was attracted to boys.
A Milwaukee television station reported in October that Effinger, then pastor of Holy Name Catholic Church, had admitted sexually assaulting a boy two decades earlier, in Kenosha.
After the report, church leaders held meetings to calm parishioners, while authorities fielded reports about past incidents involving Effinger at churches where he had served.
"I went to the first two meetings at Holy Name after the news broke, and I actually defended Effinger. I felt it was my church that was being attacked," the victim's father said in an interview with the Sheboygan Press.
A week later, the man said, he learned his son had been sexually assaulted by Effinger in the basement of their home some five years before.
"We feel that he was using us so he could get to our son," the man said. "It's still inconceivable to me that later he could sit at our dining room table and be able to block out what he had done to our son." (The following paragraphs were not published.)
The man, who asked that his name not be used to protect his son's identity, said the family belonged to Holy Name parish about a decade before Effinger arrived as the new pastor in 1979.
He said it did not seem abnormal to allow their sons to take occasional day trips with Effinger, and once a year or so, an overnight stay.
"That was several years ago, and we had never heard of anyone being victimized by a priest," the father said. "We just never questioned it.
"We knew he had a drinking problem, but we thought things maybe were bad in the rectory, and that drinking was his outlet.
"We never, never had any hint of any sexual deviation."
When the couple learned about Effinger's assault on their son, they first went to church leaders, then reported the assault to the Sheboygan County District Attorney's Office.
Since then, the family hasn't attended services at Holy Name.
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