Victims' Rights Group Wants Answers from LA Crosse Diocese

By Sara Kronenberg
January 7, 2009

A lawsuit filed this week against the La Crosse Diocese claims the organization allowed a priest to continue serving despite a history of child molestation.

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) met Wednesday at the Diocese regarding a civil suit filed by Brenda Varga of Plover, Wisconsin.

The lawsuit alleges that Father Raymond Bornbach, who died in January 2006, raped and sexually assaulted children he was also reported for sexually assaulting elderly and disabled patients in north central Wisconsin facilities where he served as chaplain.

Varga, who is 46-years-old now, claims Bornbach molested her when she was nine-years-old.

An investigation by state of Wisconsin officials determined that Bornbach was committing sexual misconduct as late as 2005.

The lawsuit also says the La Crosse Diocese concealed from parishioners, families and the public that Bornbach was a threat to children and others, including the elderly and disabled adults.

SNAP representatives say the La Crosse Diocese has denied a higher number of abuse complaints than other diocese the country and want courts to determine if the other complaints have merit.

"This lawsuit is really an opportunity to re-open the books about all these past reports," says Peter Isely, SNAP Midwest Director. "In 2004, (the La Crosse Diocese) said 28 priests were accused of raping children, but only 10 of them were considered founded."

The diocese says it performs extensive background checks to make sure everyone is safe.

SNAP wanted to hand deliver their letter Wednesday, but were not allowed onto the Diocese property.

Representatives from the Diocese says SNAP was not allowed in so they could not disrupt the activities on their property, which include seminars and a daycare.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.