Ex-Priest a Sex Predator
Malsch Will Go to Treatment Center for Former Clergy
By Peter J. Wasson
Wausau Daily Herald [Wausau, WI]
December 23, 2000
A former Tomahawk priest convicted in 1993 of sex crimes against a 14-year-old boy has given up his court fight and conceded that he is a sexual predator.
As a sexual predator, David J. Malsch, 61, could have been sentenced indefinitely to a secure mental hospital until a psychiatrist determined he was no longer a threat to society.
But as part of his agreement, Marathon County Circuit Court Judge Raymond Thums ordered Malsch placed in a facility called RECON, a Missouri treatment center for former clergy.
"The court is then permitted to see if a less-restrictive environment is appropriate," said Special Prosecutor Kendall Kelley, a state expert in sexual predator cases.
"The court found that supervised release at the facility in Missouri is appropriate and has ordered the state to provide a supervised release plan," Kelley said. "Frankly my expectation is the placement at the facility in Missouri will continue indefinitely."
Kelley said RECON is not secure, as a jail or prison would be, but is just outside St. Louis and surrounded by farmland. There, Malsch will receive counseling for sexual misbehavior, alcohol abuse and any other problems that need addressing.
If he flees the facility or refuses treatment, he will be returned to a secure Wisconsin mental institution, Kelley said.
"It's basically a facility that treats priests with difficulties like those experienced by Mr. Malsch," he said. "It's run by a not-for-profit organization, not under the auspices of the Catholic Church, but there are priests there and a priest on staff there."
Malsch originally was convicted of sexually soliciting a boy in a Rib Mountain motel room in 1993. The victim told police the man he knew as "Father Dave" from St. Mary's Catholic Church in Tomahawk took him to the hotel room and gave him liquor.
Malsch also took the boy swimming, took nude photos of him and previously had shown him pornographic video tapes in the church rectory.
Malsch was supposed to be helping counsel the victim, who was in a learning-disabled program in school.
Following his original conviction, Malsch was sentenced to eight years' probation and a year in jail. But after being released, Malsch moved to Indiana where he quickly found himself again in legal trouble.
As part of his probation, Malsch agreed not to drink alcohol, to have no contact with young boys and to undergo treatment for sexual offenders. But in Indiana, he was caught attending a sex counseling session after drinking and ordered back to Wisconsin for further punishment.
He was returned to the Oshkosh Correctional Institution in 1997 and was due to be released from prison in February 1999 before prosecutors initiated sexual predator proceedings. Since that time he has been held in a secure mental health facility in Oshkosh.
To be declared a sexual predator, a judge or jury would have been required to find Malsch a sexually violent person likely to reoffend if released into the community.
In support of that argument, Kelley filed court records accusing Malsch of pedophelia.
Malsch has a history of sexual assault and alcohol dependency going back to at least 1979, according to a report prepared by psychologist Sandra King, who interviewed Malsch.
King's report said Malsch "demonstrates little hope of stemming a very established pattern of sexual violations."
ccording to court records:
• In 1979, while a priest at St. Patrick's Catholic Church in Superior, Malsch developed a relationship with two brothers, ages 12 and 13. He gave the boys liquor, showed them pornographic movies and tried to pull the pants off the older boy.
• In 1982 or 1983, Malsch and the younger brother went to a different parish where Malsch filled in for the weekend. There he gave the boy wine and beer and kept "coming after" the boy trying to touch him inappropriately, the report said.
• The priest and the boy had several more contacts, during which Malsch offered money to photograph the boy nude. After a night of drinking at the rectory, the boy relented and Malsch took photos and attempted to have intercourse with him.
• After going through a church-sponsored inpatient treatment center, he was reassigned to St. Joseph Catholic Church in Rhinelander and later to St. Mary Catholic Church in Tomahawk. While at St. Mary as associate pastor, he befriended a boy whom he later took to the Rib Mountain motel. There he gave the boy alcohol, touched him inappropriately, showed him pornographic videos and photographed him in bikini shorts.Kelley said there are no guarantees that any treatment program will work with Malsch, but he thinks RECON has as good a chance as anything at rehabilitating the former priest.
"The state was satisfied this is an appropriate facility that should serve the interests of the public and its safety," he said. "It should provide the treatment he needs to improve and hopefully return to a position that's no longer a threat to the community."
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