‘May God have mercy on your soul’: Victims speak as ex-priest gets maximum sentence for sexual assault

Wausau Daily Herald

September 26, 2019

By Laura Schulte


[Includes video from the court of victim statements, Ericksen’s apology, and the judge’s sentencing.]

Hayward – An audible sigh of relief was let loose in the Sawyer County Courthouse on Thursday as a former Wisconsin priest received a maximum prison sentence for sexually assaulting young boys in the 1980s.

Four men celebrated the moment in the Hayward courtroom after sharing stories of abuse perpetrated by a man they once trusted. One of the victims, a teacher from Merrill, went public with his identity for the first time Thursday.

Thomas Ericksen, 72, was sentenced to 30 years in prison on two charges of sexually assaulting boys while stationed at St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Winter. He also will be registered as a sex offender for life.

Details from four other allegations also were considered in the sentencing: two from Sawyer County that were dismissed as part of a plea deal, and two from Lincoln County that never were filed in court but were investigated by the Merrill Police Department. The two reports in Merrill dated to the late 1970s and early 1980s, when Ericksen was stationed at Holy Cross Hospital as a chaplain.

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