Says Church Knew He Was Abusing Girls
Civil Suit Filed Against Milwaukee Archdiocese in Abuse Scandal
July 19, 2007
[See also the original video of this report and a 20-minute excerpt from MacArthur's deposition.]
Milwaukee -- A fraud lawsuit has been filed against the Milwaukee Archdiocese, accusing Catholic leaders of covering up for a priest accused of sexually assaulting children.
The civil suit is the first one since the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled last week that such cases could proceed.
The 85-year-old priest at the center of the case, Rev. Bruce MacArthur is accused of sexually assaulting several girls in Milwaukee and Beaver Dam about 40 years ago. MacArthur also faces criminal charges in Dodge County.
The lawsuit alleges that the Archdiocese willingly assigned MacArthur to three parishes and a hospital with the knowledge that he was sexually abusing girls.
MacArthur told lawyers in a 2004 deposition for an out-of-state civil case that he was bounced around by church leadership, from South Dakota to Wisconsin to Texas, because of the abuse. Stops in Wisconsin include St. Phillips, St. Roses and the Beaver Dam hospital.
The suit, filed in Milwaukee County Court, is on behalf of a Jane Doe, a woman who said she was abused in the 60s in Milwaukee. Her lawsuit includes a photo of her with MacArthur, as well other documents that victims advocates say proves a cover-up by church leadership.
"This is a case where there was complete and total knowledge that the bishop had a pedophile on his hands, that he was raping children, and he sent him to Milwaukee lying and concealing that we are dumping a sex offender into your parish," victims advocate Peter Isely said.
In a 20-minute video tape, MacArthur spoke about assaulting the children for five years between 1965 and 1970.
"I knew I was doing wrong, but I had no way of stopping it. None whatsoever," MacArthur said on the tape.
MacArthur admits he was an abuser.
"But every parish that I worked with in Milwaukee, they knew. The pastor knew what I was," MacArthur said.
MacArthur received counseling numerous times over the years, but said it didn't work and that the church kept reassigning him.
MacArthur is currently free on bail from the criminal charges in Dodge County, where he accused of sexually assaulting three girls in Beaver Dam while stationed as a hospital Chaplain in the late 1960s.
A representative for the Archdiocese said Thursday that they can't make an official response because they haven't yet seen the suit.
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