Retired Priest Charged in Assaults

Sioux City Journal
January 23, 2006

EL PASO, Texas (AP) -- A former South Dakota Catholic priest who recently settled an abuse lawsuit has been charged with sexually assaulting girls during the 1960s while he was a hospital chaplain in Wisconsin.

The Rev. Bruce Duncan MacArthur, 83, was taken into custody outside a church housing and recovery center in St. Louis on Friday.

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

"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," said Steven Bauer, District Attorney in Dodge County, Wis.

MacArthur admitted to sexually assaulting at least two girls while serving at Beaver Dam Community Hospital, then called St. Joseph Hospital, according to the criminal complaint.

He's accused of abusing Judy DeLonga, who alleges MacArthur began molesting her during the 1960s in Wisconsin when she was 10. Statements MacArthur made during a deposition taken for a civil suit filed by DeLonga led to his arrest, said her attorney Jeff Anderson.

DeLonga, formerly of Pensacola, Fla., and now of Virginia, alleged in her civil lawsuit that MacArthur abused her while he was on leave from the Sioux Falls, S.D., diocese. The case against DeLonga and the dioceses was settled late last year.

At a November news conference announcing the settlement, DeLonga said the abuse by MacArthur continued until she was 17.

"My parents are devout Catholics and never would have suspected a priest to be a child molester," she said. "We were never warned by the diocese that he had a history of abusing children."

Authorities have started extradition proceedings to transfer MacArthur from Missouri to Wisconsin, said Bauer. MacArthur faces up to 80 years in prison if convicted.

Prosecutors were able to charge him because MacArthur left Wisconsin before the statute of limitations expired and did not return as a resident, Bauer said.

"The criminal statute of limitations has always included this exception," Bauer said.

MacArthur worked at St. Patrick Cathedral in El Paso from 1974 to 1977.

He was indicted in the attempted rape of a 54-year-old patient at the Four Seasons Nursing Home in February 1978. The victim could not speak or control her motor skills because of a congenital disease, archives indicate.

Court records show that in 1979, the Rev. John F. Peters of the Catholic Diocese of El Paso wrote to the Rev. Lambert Hoch of Sioux Falls, S.D., telling him: "As you recall Fr. Bruce MacArthur was serving here in El Paso when the unfortunate event took place that resulted in his incarceration. His release on probation was conditioned by the commitment of the Church to provide for his psychological treatment."

DeLonga's attorney was troubled that MacArthur received such aid from the church.

"The bishops that protected him and helped him with knowledge (that he was) a sex offender are every bit as criminal as he is," Anderson said.


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