Former Priest Convicted in Sexual Assault of Local Man

By Kristine Heidke
Central Wisconsin Sunday
September 18, 2005

A former priest convicted of sexually assaulting a 10-year-old boy in 1988 was sentenced to prison Friday after hearing the victim say he still is struggling to recover from effects of the abuse.

Donald Buzanowski, 62, apologized to the victim, David Schauer, who now lives in Marshfield, during the sentencing Friday in Brown County Circuit Court.

Under sentencing laws in effect at the time of the crimes, Buzanowski must serve about eight years of his 32-year term before first becoming eligible for parole, and his mandatory date for release from prison is after just more than 21 years.

He was found guilty by a jury July 27 on two counts of assaulting Schauer when Schauer was a fifth-grader at Saints Peter and Paul Catholic School.

"David, I'm sorry," Buzanowski said.

"I don't know how to say I am sorry any more than that," he added, saying he doesn't remember attacking the boy. "I know 'I'm sorry' can be a very cheap and easy thing to say. It's not cheap today, nor is it easy."

The apologies rang hollow for Schauer, now 27.

"He doesn't remember doing anything to me," Schauer said. "You can't be sorry for what you don't remember."

Schauer testified he was pulled out of class in the fall of 1988 and sent to see Buzanowski for counseling, and when the session ended, Buzanowski grabbed his arm, drew him over his lap and began fondling him. Buzanowski was accused of touching the boy on different occasions, fondling him over his clothes and kissing him on the lips.

Schauer said each encounter ended with Buzanowski escorting Schauer to the door and parting with the words: "This is just between you and me."

Schauer said he left the room upset each time, but he headed back to class embarrassed and scared, but never showed his teacher any signs of distress.

Schauer read a statement in court Friday telling how the abuse affected him.

"The sexual abuse that occurred to me changed my entire personality," he said. "Eventually the person I used to be became so stifled that the new hardened version of me emerged and has been me ever since."

He said he has made small steps recently to reclaim a personality of his own and he knows it will take courage and strength to make more progress.

"Things don't end for me now just because he's being sentenced," Schauer said Saturday. "This is just part of it that's over with. I certainly have to deal with the things that I've been dealing with for some time now, but it's nice. It's hard for me to put into words. Now that I know he's been sentenced, he will be unable to hurt any children for at least a little while."

The ongoing struggle to open up continues in his in personal and family life, and Schauer is trying to reclaim a personality he lost 17 years ago:

"Someone who's carefree. More open. Less guarded."

Schauer said that his choice of study allows him an excuse to be more open. He is majoring in nursing at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

"It gives me an excuse to be a caring, loving person," he said. "That's my job."

Buzanowski has not served as a clergyman since 1989 and was formally defrocked by the Vatican in March.

Buzanowski was convicted in Milwaukee on a federal charge of possessing child pornography in 2000 and served 21 months in prison.

In a letter written at that time, he admitted to molesting more than 14 boys between 1969 and 1988, court records show.

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