State High Court Will Hear Sex Case against Ex-Priest

By Colleen Kottke
Fond Du Lac Reporter
January 4, 2008

JUNEAU — A criminal case against a former priest accused of sexually assaulting three Beaver Dam girls more than 40 years ago will be heard by the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

Dodge County District Attorney Steven Bauer filed charges two years ago in Dodge County Circuit Court against Bruce Duncan MacArthur, 85, who worked as a chaplain during the mid-1960s at St. Joseph Hospital.

The former priest, who resides in a nursing home in Missouri, is 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.

A motion by MacArthur's attorney to dismiss the case due to the expiration of the statute of limitations was thrown out by Dodge County Circuit Court Judge Daniel Klossner in 2006. The case then moved to an appellate court in August of 2006.

"The Court of Appeals has asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to decide the case because it raised novel, complex legal issues (in regard to the statute of limitations)," said Bauer, who expects the Supreme Court's decision to take months.

Under current state law, the statute of limitations for charges of sexual assault against a child runs out once a victim reaches 45 years of age. MacArthur's alleged victims are all over the age of 50. However, Bauer argued that the statute of limitations had not run out on MacArthur because the former priest had left Wisconsin before it expired and did not return as a resident.

"I made the argument that the time (MacArthur) was out of state is not counted, therefore we can bring the action," Bauer told The Reporter in 2006. "In fact, in a recent session, the Legislature eliminated the statute of limitations for first-degree sexual assault of a child."

According to the criminal complaint, a 50-year-old woman told Beaver Dam police that she was sexually abused by MacArthur from the time she was 10 years old until she was in high school. The woman said the first assault took place in a hospital room at St. Joseph Hospital in Beaver Dam while she was a patient.

Several times a week, the priest would take the child home to his apartment where he would fondle her and have sex with her, the complaint said. The assaults also took place while she accompanied MacArthur on trips, according to the complaint.

Two other women reported that MacArthur attempted to molest them while they were patients at the hospital.

MacArthur is free on a $10,000 cash bond.


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