Over and Over: He Recalls at Least 50 Sex Episodes

By Marie Rohde
Milwaukee Journal
December 20, 1992

Michael Rocklin, a student in the St. Lawrence Seminary preparatory school between 1976 and 1980, says he had sexual contact at least 50 times with Gale Leifeld both before and after the priest became principal of the school in 1977.

"I remember being in his bed with him and hearing my friends talking as they walked down the hall that was on the other side of his bedroom wall," Rocklin said. Rocklin, who has a master's degree in business administration and lives in San Diego, spoke to The Journal in a telephone interview from his home.

He said he did not report the sexual incidents at first because homosexual contact between students was grounds for immediate expulsion from the boarding school.

Rocklin recalled a 1978 incident in which Leifeld immediately expelled two students who were discovered having sex. The next evening, Leifeld took Rocklin to his room and had sex with him, Rocklin said.

Rocklin said the last episode with Leifeld occurred when he was a junior. The incident was painful, Rocklin said, because Leifeld had him pinned down on the bed and was masturbating him roughly. Rocklin said he begged the priest to stop but that Leifeld persisted.

Rocklin said he was devastated by the incident and went to Father Joseph Diermeier, then vice rector of the school, and told him about Leifeld in confession. Diermeier is now the rector, or principal, at St. Lawrence. He did not return phone calls for comment.

The next day, Rocklin said, Diermeier told him the seal of the confessional would have to be broken so Leifeld could get help for his problem.

"He said I shouldn't worry because these things happen to everyone," Rocklin said of his counseling with Diermeier. "He said I shouldn't tell anyone and that I wasn't gay."

Leifeld was placed in spiritual counseling, Rocklin said, and Rocklin was ordered to undergo counseling as well.

When he was 16, Rocklin said, another priest, James LaReau, who is deceased, took him to a guest house at the school for a sexual encounter that ended when Rocklin began crying.

When he was 17 and a senior, Rocklin said, he went to a Capuchin pre-novitiate house in Detroit where a priest he did not know entered Rocklin's room and had sex with him.

A year after high school graduation, Rocklin was visiting the Capuchin pre-novitiate program in Detroit when he met with the provincial head of the Capuchins and was asked for names of other students who had had sexual contact with Leifeld.

Rocklin said he tried to put the matter behind him, but it resurfaced eight years later when a former faculty member called him and discussed the incidents in great detail. Rocklin said he then went into therapy.

In October, he decided to contact Father Kenneth Reinhart, the current head of the Capuchin province, and ask Reinhart to pay for his therapy.

Reinhart invited Rocklin to Capuchin provincial headquarters in Detroit, Rocklin said, where the two agreed Rocklin would be given $4,000 to cover the cost of therapy resulting from "associations and experiences which may have adversely affected his health and development" at St. Lawrence.

Rocklin signed the contract and agreed to keep the matter confidential but decided to talk to a reporter after learning that others had had similar encounters.


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