Ex-Priest Pleads Guilty to Sex Abuse

Peoria Journal Star [Milwaukee WI]
April 20, 2005

MILWAUKEE - A former Catholic priest accused of sexually abusing a teenage altar boy during trips to Milwaukee in the early 1980s has pleaded guilty and faces sentencing June 3.

Francis Engels, 69, of Kewanee pleaded guilty Friday in Milwaukee County Circuit Court to two counts of second-degree sexual assault. Engels, who in 1993 was removed from his ministry within the Catholic Diocese of Peoria, faces up to 10 years in prison.

Engels admitted assaulting the boy, who is now 37, but doesn't recall the incidents alleged to have happened during trips to Milwaukee in 1982 and 1983.

Engels served as pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Annawan before stepping down in 1993 amid allegations of sexual molestation from several former parishioners. He also had responsibility for St. Mary's Mission in Hooppole.

Police arrested Engels at his Kewanee residence Dec. 1, 2004, after Milwaukee County issued a warrant.

Last month, a lawsuit filed by Daniel Koenigs, now living in Chicago, against the Diocese, Engels and two other priests, William Harbert and Gregory Plunkett, was settled for an undisclosed amount. The 14-count suit alleged nearly 30 separate acts of abuse perpetrated by the former priests from 1980 to 1984 while Koenigs was an altar boy in churches in Woodlawn, Cambridge and Walnut.

All three priests were removed from the public ministry. Harbert died in April 2003.

The suit alleged the abuse occurred on trips to Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin that Koenigs took with the three men.


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