Priest Charged with Sex Abuse in De Pere Abbey

By Andy Nelesen
Green Bay [De Pere WI]
September 19, 2003

Filing charges in an investigation that has been more than 18 months in the making, prosecutors this week accused a Norbertine priest of assaulting a 14-year-old boy in the hot tub and shower of the Norbertine Abbey in De Pere.

The Rev. James Stein, 43, was charged in Brown County court with three counts of felony second-degree sexual assault of a child stemming from allegations by a former student who worked at the Priory, part of the priests’ living quarters connected to Notre Dame Academy in Green Bay.

The alleged victim, who is now 29, said the attacks happened in 1988, either in August or September, the summer before his freshman year.

According to the criminal complaint filed Monday, Stein asked the alleged victim and another youth to go swimming at the abbey. Once there, Stein allegedly sat in a hot tub with the boy, put his hand on the boys’ leg and then put his hand on the boy’s genitals.

The boy left the hot tub and went into the shower area, according to the complaint. While in the shower area, Stein allegedly placed his hands on the boy’s shoulders and reached around to touch his genitals a second time. The alleged victim told authorities that he spun away from Stein and got dressed.

The boy said Stein invited him to go swimming a second time, a few months after the original incident. The alleged victim said two other boys were invited, so he felt he would be safe.

While in the hot tub during the second incident, Stein allegedly rubbed the boy’s leg and reached under his swimming trunks, the complaint said. After that, the boy said he left the hot tub.

The case against Stein has been pending for more than a year.

Stein was assigned outside of Wisconsin in 1992 and returned to the De Pere abbey a few weeks ago, according to court documents. The alleged victim, who made his original complaint in March 2002, lives out of the area. He formerly lived in De Pere.

Stein is expected to make an initial appearance in Brown County court Sept. 30. He has not been arrested, but was issued a summons to appear in court.

Calls to Abbot Gary Neville and Prior David Komatz reached voice mail Thursday.


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