Priest Gets 20-Year Term in Sexual Abuse of Boys

By Michael Hirsley
Chicago Tribune
June 9, 1994

Oshkosh, Wis. - Rev. Norbert Maday was sentenced to 20 years in prison Wednesday, in the courtroom where a jury had convicted him of criminal sexual assaults of two teenage boys.

Winnebago County Circuit Judge William Crane postponed the sentence until July 5 to give Maday's attorneys time to petition the Wisconsin Court of Appeals to allow the Chicago Archdiocese priest to remain free on appeal bond.

[Photo Captions: 1) Rev. Norbert Maday comforts his mother, Catherine, Wednesday in Oshkosh, Wis., after he was sentenced for fondling two boys. AP photo. 2) Rev. Norbert Maday thanks his supporters Wednesday at his sentencing in Oshkosh, Wis. The judge received more than 100 letters urging leniency for the priest, convicted of sex abuse. AP photo.]

If the petition is denied, Maday will be sent to a state penitentiary next month.

In imposing the prison term, followed by 5 years' probation, Crane said that although Maday had helped and cared for people, he also had "a serious history of undesirable behavior" including "improper conduct with juveniles under his care."

After sentencing, Maday reiterated that he is innocent of the charges of which he was convicted April 22. He said he looked forward to an appeal "on a level playing field" and would be "willing to go before the court in heaven" because "my conscience is clear."

"I've never done anything that in my conscience I would consider wrong."

Asked specifically if he had ever sexually fondled anyone, as his accusers had testified he did in 1986, he shook his head no.

Neither of the plaintiffs attended the sentencing hearing, but the parents of one did.

"Maday should have had his first meal in jail tonight," said the father afterward. The mother said her son did not attend the hearing because, "it's not easy for him to be in the same room with Maday."

Winnebago County District Atty. Joseph Paulus sought the maximum sentence of 35 years in prison, but he said he was "very satisfied" with the sentence imposed by Crane.

"I think the long period of incarceration followed by an extra period of probation under court supervision will keep this child molester away from children for years to come."

Lead defense attorney Stephen Komie pleaded for leniency so Maday could continue to care for his elderly mother and continue some ministry on probation.

After the sentencing, Komie expressed confidence that the appellate court would grant his client bond and that the appeal would be successful.

He said that the defense was irreparably harmed by the judge's refusal to let the jury hear the backgrounds of Maday's accusers and a damaging contradiction to one accuser's testimony.

Komie was not allowed to tell the jury about the arrest of one accuser on a drug charge and a hospital diagnosis that he was a narcotics addict.

And the defense was not permitted to rebut the other accuser's account of being fondled by Maday in 1986 while the priest replayed a sexual seduction-horror scene from an R-rated video, which it was claimed was not released until 1987.

Before sentence was imposed, Maday thanked supporters of "my 30 years of ministry," including those who sent 120 letters to the judge. He said he had prayed for the judge and hoped to remain on probation pending his appeal so he could remain a minister serving the "poor, sick and needy."

However, Crane said one of the letters he received was sent by another young man who said he had been sexually abused by Maday, although no charges were filed against the priest in that alleged incident. That man, now a college student, was in the courtroom Wednesday. He expressed disappointment that the sentence was stayed, "because I came 800 miles today looking for closure."

"I feel that his abuse has resulted in a lifetime penalty to his victims, so there should be the maximum sentence for him," the father of one of the alleged victims said in court. "The court should show him no mercy. I don't feel he should be outside for another day."

The mother said she sent an "innocent, loving" boy on the 1986 church outing to Oshkosh that led to the sexual abuse charges against Maday, and the son who returned "won't let me hug or touch him because of what he did."

Maday was convicted of three counts of sexual abuse of the two plaintiffs, during separate outings to Oshkosh when they were 13 and 14 years old; and of threatening to kill the brother of one if he told anyone.

The Chicago Archdiocese issued a statement after the sentencing, saying that "the justice system has spoken," and declaring: "We hope that the ultimate disposition of this case will aid in the healing of all persons involved.

"Father Maday remains on administrative leave and under supervision pending any further appeal proceedings."

If Maday goes to prison, he would be the first Chicago Archdiocese priest to be jailed on sexual abuse charges inolving a minor. Robert Mayer, the priest who was convicted in December 1992 of sexual molestation of a teenage girl, is free on bond pending his appeal. Mayer has resigned from the priesthood.


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