Wausau priest resigns after allegations of sexual misconduct with a minor

Spectrum News 1 Kentucky [Louisville KY]

October 25, 2022

By Rachel Ryan

his article discusses sexual assault. If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, you can call RAINN’s national sexual assault hotline at 1-800-656-4673 for confidential support. 

LA CROSSE, Wis. — After an allegation of sexual misconduct with a minor, a Catholic priest in Wausau has resigned, according to the Diocese of La Crosse.

The abuse happened several decades ago, but most parishioners at Wausau Catholic churches learned of the accusation during the Oct. 23 Sunday worship service, per the diocese. 

The accused Rev. Msgr. Mark Pierce took responsibility for the abuse in a prepared statement.

“After many years of neglect, I am being called to face the wrong I caused someone by behavior inappropriate for a priest,” Pierce said in the statement. “Facing up to what I have done now requires that I resign as your pastor.”

Pierce led congregations at St. Michael and Resurrection churches.

Rev. William Callahan said in an official Diocese of La Crosse statement that after receiving the complaint, the diocese immediately notified Pierce and placed him on leave of absence, relieving him of his ministerial duties.

“I am incredibly saddened, and my thoughts are first with the victim/survivor. Processes and actions designed to comfort and assure this person guide us now,” Callahan added in the statement.

Officials did not say where or when the misconduct occurred. No further details have been released at this time.

As of April, the Wisconsin Department of Justice Clergy and Faith Leader Initiative had received over 200 reports from people accusing more than 150 individuals of abuse. It was the first time allegations were made public in 51 of the reports.

When the DOJ receives a report, it has a victim specialist evaluate the report to determine how to follow up. That report is then evaluated by several entities, including a victim advocate, an investigator and a prosecutor.

No criminal charges have been filed surrounding the report against Pierce as of Tuesday afternoon.