DA Reviewing Clergy Abuse Deposition


November 21, 2008

[with links to the video and a print copy of the deposition]

MILWAUKEE -- The Milwaukee County District Attorney’s office will review a deposition citing sexual abuse by clergy members that spans decades.

Click Here To Read The Full Deposition

Milwaukee DA Reviewing Clergy Abuse Deposition

The clergy abuse victims group, SNAP, is turning the deposition over to the district attorney to review it and decide whether it shows evidence of criminal wrongdoing by former Milwaukee Archbishop Rembert Weakland or other church officials.

Weakland said that at one point or another, virtually every parish in the diocese had a priest that sexually abused a child.

“Any Catholic can now see in this diocese exactly what Archbishop Weakland did or didn't do, what he did or didn't know concerning these terrible cases,” said Peter Isely, a clergy abuse advocate.

Weakland was interviewed as part of a civil lawsuit filed against the Archdiocese by clergy abuse victims that will be heard next summer. He said he didn't realize the scope of the problem until the mid-'80s.

“It became clear to me that this wasn't just something I had bumped into a few times in Milwaukee, but a national phenomenon that had to be dealt with,” he said.

There are 43 confirmed clergy offenders, which he admits affected almost every parish in the Archdiocese.

Weakland said his view of the victims changed over time. He was asked about a quote from a church official that called priest pedophilia a form of homicide because it takes away children's innocence.

“If you had asked me that in 1979 I would not have agreed. But if you'd ask me that now in 2008, I would say yes in almost every case,” Weakland said.

The Archdiocese said it doesn’t object to the district attorney's review.

“The more information that civil authorities have about abuse, the better we are. We learned that loud and clear in 2002. And since 2002, any allegation that comes into the Archdiocese is immediately turned over to civil authorities,” said Jerry Topczewski, the Archdiocese chief of staff


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