Retired Priest Pleads Guilty in Child Porn Case

By Jim Salter
Associated Press, carried in Duluth News Tribune [St. Louis MO]
February 28, 2005

ST. LOUIS - A retired priest previously convicted of sexual misconduct in Wisconsin will go to prison for at least five years after pleading guilty to child pornography charges, federal officials said Monday.

David Malsch, 66, was convicted of child enticement in 1993. In 2001, Malsch was sent to the Wounded Brothers Recon Facility, a home for troubled priests in the eastern Missouri town of Robertsville.

In 2003, federal authorities searched Malsch's room there and found 28 photos of child porn. U.S. Attorney James Martin said Malsch also had forwarded some of the pictures to a Pennsylvania pen pal.

Malsch pleaded guilty Monday to one felony count of receipt of child pornography. Under the PROTECT Act, adopted two years ago to strengthen the government's ability to investigate and punish violent crimes against children, he will go to prison for at least five years and up to 20 years.

Sentencing is June 10.

"We would anticipate presenting information to justify a sentence significantly longer than five years," Martin said. "What's very clear is that despite being designated by Wisconsin as a sexually violent individual and being in a facility where he was supposed to be being helped, he continued to break the law and do this deplorable act.

"We think the only way to keep him from doing it again is to lock him up for as long as possible."

The Rev. Philip Heslin, chief operations officer for the Superior (Wis.) Diocese, said he was saddened by the turn of events.

"Who knows what goes on in someone's mind and what he's been through," Heslin said. "He's had a very difficult life."

Malsch was ordained in the Superior diocese in 1967 and spent his entire career there. The diocese covers Wisconsin's 16 northernmost counties.

Allegations of inappropriate behavior with a child against Malsch date to the early 1980s, when he was serving St. Patrick church in Superior. In 2002, Superior Bishop Raphael Fliss apologized publicly for the diocese's failure to more thoroughly investigate Malsch.

Malsch was removed from St. Patrick in 1984 and was sent for a psychological evaluation at a treatment facility, where he spent 111 days.

After a brief stay in Rhinelander, Wis., Malsch was sent to St. Mary's church in Tomahawk, Wis., in 1987 as an associate pastor. In 1991, the Lincoln County, Wis., Sheriff's Department began investigating allegations that Malsch had sexually assaulted a 14-year-old Tomahawk boy with learning disabilities at a motel. Investigators found a locked trunk filled with pornography in Malsch's home, and he was suspended from his duties as a priest.

In 1993, Malsch pleaded no contest to one count of child enticement for the motel assault. He was sentenced to eight years probation. He also was ordered not to work as a priest or counselor.

In January 2001, Marathon County, Wis., Judge Raymond Thums ruled that Malsch continued to be a sexually violent person and ordered him committed to the facility in Robertsville, about 50 miles southwest of St. Louis.

Jamie Allman, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of St. Louis, said Archbishop Raymond Burke spoke with officials who run the Wounded Brothers Recon Facility two weeks ago "to express concern about security and monitoring there."

But Allman said the facility does not have to answer directly to the archbishop.

"If it's true that he received porn in the mail and sent it out, there's no question the archbishop will be having another conversation with them," Allman said.

A phone call to the Wounded Brothers Recon Facility was not returned.


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