9 Men Accuse Ex-City Priest of Sex Assault

By Mike Miller
Capital Times
October 14, 1995

A group of nine men filed suit Friday against former Madison priest Michael Trainor and the Madison Catholic Diocese, claiming Trainor sexually assaulted them when they were children.

All of the men listed as plaintiffs in the lawsuit claim they had repressed their memories of the alleged assaults until this year. The assaults allegedly occurred in the 1970s and early 1980s in Madison and Watertown.

The new suit brings the total number of people suing Trainor to 18. Trainor, who now lives in Michigan, is the subject of two other similar suits still pending in Dane County Circuit Court. In one suit, an Eau Claire resident claims to have been assaulted by the priest. In the other, eight individuals claim they had been sexually assaulted by Trainor.

In Friday's suit, the plaintiffs are listed only by their initials, and their ages were not disclosed.

According to the lawsuit, the sexual assaults occurred at St. Maria Goretti and St. Thomas Aquinas in Madison and at St. Henry in Watertown. The various plaintiffs in the action now live in Madison, Watertown, Greenfield, Middleton, Phoenix and Broken Arrow, Okla.

The suit, which seeks punitive and compensatory damages, claims Trainor threatened to harm the plaintiffs if they told anyone about the alleged assaults. It says the alleged assaults were "intentional, outrageous and in willful disregard of the potential damages which could be done."

The suit says that each plaintiff "as a result of the psychological distress caused by the sexual assaults" suppressed memories of the assaults "until approximately 1995."

The suit also charges the Madison Diocese with being "aware that Trainor engaged in non-ministerial, non-ecclesiastical acts of sexual abuse of minor children for his own sexual gratification."

Despite that knowledge, the suit says, the diocese and various parishes in which Trainor served encouraged members to interact with Trainor and were implied "that it was safe for children to do so."

The suit says Trainor assaulted one of the plaintiffs in 1974 at St. Maria Goretti, five of the plaintiffs from 1978 to 1982 at St. Henry, and three others in 1982 at St. Thomas Aquinas.

The plaintiffs are represented by Milwaukee attorney Robert Elliott, who also represents the plaintiffs in the other two pending suits against Trainor and the diocese.

Officials of the diocese could not be reached for comment Friday. The suit is assigned to Dane County Circuit Judge Robert DeChambeau.


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