SNAP Releases Video of Former Archbishop Deposition


November 12, 2008

[with video]

Watch The Video

MILWAUKEE (AP) - The former head of Milwaukee's Catholic community has admitted returning sexually abusive priests to active ministry without telling parishioners because he knew they wouldn't be accepted otherwise.

"No parish would have accepted a priest unless you could say that he has gone through the kind of psychological examination and that he's not a risk to the parish," retired Milwaukee Archbishop Rembert Weakland said in a portion of a videotaped deposition released Wednesday.

Weakland was asked whether he felt it necessary to inform parents about a priest who was convicted of abuse and then seen hanging around children.

"I don't know if it was necessary to tell [them], but I certainly do think somebody, probably the probation officer, should have been notified," Weakland responded.

He gave the deposition in June to a lawyer representing seven men and women who claim they were assaulted by priests. The cases are expected to go to trial next summer.

Lawyer Jeffery Anderson released the videotape after the Archdiocese of Milwaukee argued last month that the deaths of key people involved covering up sexual abuse made it difficult to get a fair trial and a loss could bankrupt the archdiocese.

Anderson said Wednesday the trial would be fair because Weakland's testimony proved a cover-up existed.

The archdiocese did not return calls for comment Wednesday.

In the deposition, Weakland said he never reported suspected abuse while in office and never directly asked accused priests whether the allegations were true. He also said he never discussed what he knew about the sexual abuse with his successor, Archbishop Timothy Dolan.

Weakland retired in 2002 after admitting the archdiocese had secretly paid $450,000 to a man who accused him of sexual abuse.


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