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  De Pere Police Investigate Accusation against Priest

By Paul Srubas
Green Bay Press-Gazette
April 10, 2002

De Pere police are making contacts out of state to investigate allegations that a priest sexually assaulted a child in De Pere 14 years ago.

"Both the complainant and the alleged suspect are out of state, which is posing a challenge," said Capt. Dale Haagen. "But we're making connections, and we're in the process of investigating it right now."

The alleged victim contacted the department in the last week of March to report being victimized in De Pere in 1988. Police would not provide details of the allegation.

The Catholic Diocese of Green Bay has not been notified or contacted about the allegation, spokesman Tony Kuick said.

The diocese is going through personnel records of its priests as far back as it can to search for allegations of child abuse. At least two allegations -- one from about 30 years ago and another from about 50 years ago and involving a priest that is now dead -- prompted the records review, which will involve more than 200 personnel files, Kuick said.

The allegations surfaced after the diocese announced that it was dealing with an allegation of sexual assault of a minor against the Rev. Stanley Browne, pastor at St. Mary of the Lake Parish in Lakewood. The incident allegedly happened in the early 1980s, while Browne was an assistant pastor at SS. Peter & Paul Parish in Green Bay. He has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation.

The diocese reported the accusation -- which came from the alleged victim's lawyer -- to the Brown County District Attorney's office, which has indicated that police, not the district attorney's office, is the proper agency to which to report such incidents.

However, Kuick said the diocese has not gone to the police, and Green Bay police are not actively involved in any such investigation, department spokesman Lt. Bill Galvin said. It's unclear what, if anything, is happening in Browne's case, but Galvin said he understood that investigators planned to meet with District Attorney John Zakowski today on the issue.

Meanwhile, Green Bay Bishop Robert Banks issued a one-sentence statement Tuesday in response to an allegation arising out of Boston that he arranged for the transfer of the Rev. Paul R. Shanley, now accused of a sexual offense, to a California parish in 1990, when Banks worked for the Archdiocese of Boston.

In his statement, Banks said, "Obviously, I was not aware of any allegations against (the priest) before I sent the letter."

The Boston Globe reported this week that Banks provided a San Bernardino, Calif., diocese with a letter of assurance that the accused priest had no problems in his past, even though the church's personnel files showed that church officials knew of allegations against him as far back as 1967.

The Boston Globe reported Tuesday that the Boston Archdiocese was alerted in 1977 by an appalled Catholic that during a public address in Rochester, N.Y., that Shanley asserted the only harm that befalls children from having sexual relations with adults is from the trauma of societal condemnation of such acts.

Records in Shanley's personnel files disclose that the late Boston Cardinal Humberto S. Medeiros wrote to the Vatican in 1979 about Shanley's comments about sexual practices. In the letter, Medeiros called Shanley a "troubled priest," the Boston Globe reported Tuesday.

The story said that in 1988 a man complained to the Boston archdiocese that Shanley began a sexually explicit conversation with him, but Banks concluded in a memo that nothing could be done because Shanley denied the incident.

 
 

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