Priest in Halfway House Had Child Porn
Courts: Case Involving Ex-Superior Priest Raises Concerns about Church's Handling of Sexually Abusive Priests

By Jim Salter
Associated Press, carried in Duluth News Tribune [St. Louis MO]
March 2, 2005

ST. LOUIS - A priest's admission that he received child pornography while living at a home for troubled priests near St. Louis has raised concern about oversight at that site and a similar one nearby.

David Malsch, 66, a convicted sex offender from Superior, was living at the Wounded Brothers RECON facility in Franklin County, Mo., in October 2003 when federal agents searched his room and found 28 photos of child porn.

Malsch pleaded guilty Monday and faces at least five years in prison when sentenced June 10.

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.

RECON officials did not return telephone calls Tuesday seeking comment. Director Mark Matousek has described it as a halfway house mainly for those who have exhausted treatment options.

Both St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke and David Clohessy of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests questioned how a cleric with a history of sexual misconduct could be allowed to get child porn by mail. Just two weeks ago, archdiocese spokesman Jamie Allman said, Burke met with RECON officials to express concern over security and monitoring.

"In this case, this individual was sentenced to come here by a judge," Allman said, noting that the facility is run by a Franciscan order that is not under the archdiocese's jurisdiction. "We can't keep them from coming here. We can ask the order to move them away if we know they're clearly a danger."

Clohessy said abusive priests "belong in jail -- period. So many church leaders say we have to put these guys somewhere. And that's true. But the somewhere should be prison."

"Unfortunately, church leaders tend to not trust outsiders," he added. "And they prefer to have priests watching over abusive priests, which we think is a recipe for disaster."

A second facility for wayward priests is the St. John Vianney Renewal Center in nearby Jefferson County. Officials there did not return phone messages.

Concerns have been raised about priests housed at both centers:

Last year, the Rev. William Wiebler, 72, walked away from the Vianney center and moved to an apartment in the St. Louis suburb of University City, about 750 feet from an elementary school. Church officials said they had no authority to order Wiebler back to the facility. Police say they have received no complaints about Wiebler.

But 12 new victims in Iowa have alleged they were abused by Wiebler, and Burke is seeking to have him sent back to Iowa. The Vatican has ordered trial under church law to determine whether he should be punished.

Also last year, a Nevada priest, the Rev. Mark Roberts, was sent by court order to RECON, even though the facility is just 20 miles from the home of a young man once sexually abused by him.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.