Priest Indicted over Child Pornography
He Was Committed to Treatment Facility in 2001 As Sexual Predator
By Tom Kertscher and Mary Zahn
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel [Wisconsin]
November 8, 2003
A former Wisconsin priest who was shielded from criminal prosecution by top church officials for years before he was civilly committed as a sexual predator, was arrested Friday on new charges of possessing child pornography.
Father David J. Malsch, who had served in Catholic churches in northern Wisconsin from 1967 until 1991, was arrested at the private religious-affiliated Missouri treatment center where he was sent by a Wisconsin court. He has admitted to the new charges, according to court documents filed by a federal prosecutor in St. Louis.
Malsch, who served in Medford, Rhinelander, Superior and Tomahawk, had been moved from parish to parish despite accusations that he had molested boys in a church rectory after offering them beer and X-rated movies, the Journal Sentinel reported in April 2002. The story explained how top church officials had shielded Malsch from prosecution for at least six years, until his 1993 child enticement conviction.
"I don't think he's going to slip through this one," Franklin County Sheriff Gary Toelke said.
The 64-year-old retired priest was indicted late Thursday by a federal grand jury in Missouri under a 6-month-old federal law that imposes a five-year minimum sentence — and up to 20 years in prison — for receipt or distribution of child pornography, according to the U.S. attorney's office.
Malsch will remain in custody at least until Monday, when prosecutors will ask a judge to order him held without bail while the case is prosecuted, Assistant U.S. Attorney Carrie Costantin said.
Authorities said they found more than a half dozen images of boys engaging in sex acts or in sexually explicit poses in Malsch's residence at the facility, according to the indictment. Authorities said he had received the images between June 1 and Oct. 15.
Toelke said law enforcement officials in Arizona had contacted his department after finding child pornography materials there that apparently had been mailed by Malsch. U.S. postal inspectors assisted the Sheriff's Department in the investigation, according to a statement from the U.S. attorney's office.
Toelke said there is no evidence that Malsch had contact with minors in connection with the new charges. Costantin said Malsch had been exchanging the child pornography with an adult.
Malsch is Wisconsin's only civilly committed sex offender on community supervision housed out of state. The facility where he lives has a 280-acre campus with five lakes and two miles of trails.
Kevin Greene, a Brown County assistant district attorney who is acting as a special prosecutor in the case, said Friday he had petitioned to have Malsch's supervised release revoked because of the new charges. A hearing on the revocation will be scheduled within a month before Marathon County Judge Raymond F. Thums, he said.
In January 2001, Thums agreed to Malsch being placed at the Missouri facility over the objections of officials with the state Department of Health and Family Services, records show. Thums could not be reached for comment.
If approved, the petition revoking Malsch's community supervision will ensure that Wisconsin will have a hold on Malsch regardless of what happens in the federal case, Greene said.
Deborah McCulloch, the community services director for Sand Ridge Secure Treatment Center in Mauston, said she had visited with Malsch on Oct. 7 — the first time anyone from the state had interviewed him since he was placed in the Missouri facility. Wisconsin was unable to monitor Malsch's treatment or supervision because he was at a private facility in a different state, she said.
Malsch talked only about the victims law enforcement was already aware of, she said. McCulloch was suspicious when Malsch wouldn't allow her to see his room.
Father Philip Heslin, who functions as chief of staff for the Diocese of Superior, said he was notified Friday by Mark Matousek from the facility known as RECON.
Heslin said he was told that within the last two weeks the FBI raided the facility and found pornographic literature that belonged to Malsch.
Diocese of Superior Bishop Raphael Fliss said Friday that action would be taken to defrock Malsch, who is still considered a priest under the control of the diocese, even though he has been prohibited from acting as a priest.
"He's not going to be rehabilitated," Heslin said. "He is so sick. He doesn't think he's doing anything wrong. We just want to make sure he doesn't harm others."
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