Court Dismisses Case against Green Bay Diocese

By Andy Nelesen

September 4, 2008

Schauer was molested by priest; then filed claim

David Schauer's five-year legal battle with the Catholic Church came to an end last month when the Wisconsin Supreme Court declined to hear his civil case against the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay.

"It's the end of the road as far as the legal battle is concerned," Schauer said Wednesday. "I am going to continue to fight to ensure justice for others and to make things better for myself.

"It's what I deserve and what others deserve."

Schauer, now 30, was molested by then-Rev. Donald Buzanowski as a 10-year-old student attending Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Green Bay in 1988. Buzanowski, 65, has been removed from the priesthood, was convicted in July 2005 of sexual assault of a child and is currently serving a 32-year prison sentence.

Schauer in 2003 filed a claim against the diocese, Buzanowski and the diocese's insurance company asserting the church knew about Buzanowski's actions and reneged on a promise to keep him away from other children.

A Brown County judge dismissed the suit in September 2003, but the state Court of Appeals revived it in 2005 to determine whether diocese officials improperly discouraged him from filing a lawsuit in 1990.

A circuit court jury said the statute of limitation had expired and a three-judge appellate panel rejected Schauer's arguments that errors were made in a trial.

Schauer said the high court's ruling was not unexpected.

"As much as I believe that is should have gone the other way, I've been against all of the odds for a long time," Schauer said. "It was an uphill battle the entire way.

"I firmly believe that the truth has not been told and my full story has not been told."

"We are praying for all who are involved in this matter, and we want to reassure people of our ongoing commitment to keeping all children and vulnerable adults safe while they are in our care," Diocese spokeswoman Renae Bauer said in a written statement released Wednesday.

Schauer takes solace in the fact that Buzanowski is in prison for what is likely to be the rest of his life. He says he feels others dodged responsibility.

"There is one person who has been held accountable, yet the bishops and the church hierarchy has not been held accountable," Schauer said. "They were aware of his behavior and did nothing about it and did the same things with countless other priests they were in charge of."

Some good has come of the court battles, Schauer said.

"The entire court process was very therapeutic for me, more so than any other kind of therapy I have gone through," Schauer said.

Schauer said he plans to continue to work with the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests and others to change statute of limitations laws and other laws that shield clergy from civil lawsuits.

"Truly, I just want to be sure they are doing the right thing and are sticking with that," Schauer said. "I want to get the laws changed so other victims can come forward and seek justice as well."



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