Retired Priest Charged in Assault of Girls in 1960s
He Served As Hospital Chaplain in Beaver Dam

By Tom Heinen
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel [Wisconsin]
January 21, 2006

An 83-year-old retired Catholic priest now living in Missouri was charged this week in Dodge County with sexually assaulting three girls in Beaver Dam in the mid-1960s while serving as a hospital chaplain.

Father Bruce Duncan MacArthur has been taken into custody, and extradition proceedings have started, Dodge County District Attorney Steven Bauer announced Friday. A priest of the Diocese of Sioux Falls, S.D., he resides at a residential facility for abusive clergy outside St. Louis.

"This man is a sex offender," Bauer said in a prepared statement. "Although he is elderly, we cannot hesitate to bring someone to justice for horrific crimes merely because he has been able to avoid prosecution for so many years."

MacArthur was charged with two counts of sexual intercourse with a child, four counts of indecent behavior with a child and one count of attempted indecent behavior with a child.

He was able to be prosecuted for acts that allegedly occurred more than 30 years ago because he left Wisconsin after his hospital chaplaincy assignment ended in 1970 and never returned as a resident, according to Bauer and the criminal complaint.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court has ruled that the statutes of limitation begins at the time a child is assaulted. But the figurative clock used in applying those statutes stops when an offender moves out of the state.

MacArthur has admitted to sexually assaulting at least two girls - including sexual intercourse - while serving at the former St. Joseph Hospital, now Beaver Dam Community Hospital, between April 12, 1966, and Jan. 12, 1970, according to the complaint, which included a partial transcript of statements he made in a deposition.

One accuser, former Beaver Dam resident Judy DeLonga, 50, said at a news conference outside the Milwaukee County Courthouse in November that MacArthur met her in the hospital when she was 10 and began a pattern of frequent sexual intercourse with her that lasted for several years.

A Virginia resident, she came to Milwaukee to speak out shortly after settling a sexual abuse lawsuit in South Dakota against the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and the Diocese of Sioux Falls. She urged legislators to pass a bill allowing people who were sexually abused as children to sue churches in Wisconsin for the actions of their clergy no matter when the abuse occurred.

Bauer added in his news release: "The charges against MacArthur should in no way, shape, or form reflect on the many wonderful Catholic priests and other clergy who have truly done God's work. There are bad apples in every calling."


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