Archdiocese to Pay Abuse Victim
Two Funds Established for Milwaukee Man's College, Living Expenses

By Meg Kissinger
Journal Sentinel Online
January 21, 2004

The Archdiocese of Milwaukee agreed this week to pay a Milwaukee man up to $52,500 in education and living expenses to settle any claims he might have of having been sexually abused by a priest 29 years ago.

The agreement, signed on Monday by Barbara Anne Cusack, chancellor for the archdiocese, establishes two funds for Scot Edgerton, 42, of Milwaukee. One account will be set aside for living expenses and tuition for Edgerton to attend college. A second account, for $12,000, has been established by the archdiocese to pay for the utility and credit card bills that Edgerton incurred over the past several years. The archdiocese also agreed to pay up to $500 for Edgerton to undergo career testing and evaluation.

Edgerton was 13 years old and an eighth-grader at St. Aloysius School in West Allis in 1975 when the assistant pastor, Father Richard Nichols, reportedly sexually abused him after a funeral Mass.

Edgerton says that for several years after that, Nichols continued to harass him. Edgerton and his parents complained to the pastor and ultimately to then-Archbishop Rembert Weakland, but Nichols remained active as a priest. In a letter to Edgerton from Weakland in 1980, the archbishop asked Edgerton to try to forgive Nichols.

Nichols, who also worked as a child psychologist, surrendered his psychologist's license in 1985 after another boy complained to the state and the state investigated the sexual abuse claims. The archdiocese then restricted Nichols' priestly duties. Nichols died of a heart attack in 1996 at age 63.

Edgerton made his claims against the archdiocese public but never sued. He demanded a face-to-face meeting with Weakland, and last July the two met along with current Archbishop Timothy Dolan and a number of representatives from the archdiocese and Catholic reform groups.

Monday's settlement also requires the archdiocese to send a letter of apology to Edgerton and his family for the abuse committed by Nichols. Edgerton has requested that the letter come from Weakland.

Edgerton said Monday that he was relieved that the process was now over.

The archdiocese likewise expressed relief.

"We are pleased to have arrived at this moment, which Scot has designated as an important moment in his journey of healing," said Kathleen Hohl, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese.

Edgerton said he would be moving to Ohio within the next few days to live with his mother and attend college, most likely to study to become a human resources director.


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