Former Priest Charged with Assaulting Boy in Elm Grove

By Bruce Vielmetti
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
August 31, 2009

A former member of the Christian Brothers religious order who later became a Catholic priest has been charged with sexually assaulting a boy in Elm Grove in the 1970s.

James R. Blume, 64, made his first appearance in Waukesha Circuit Court on Monday and was released on a $15,000 signature bond. A preliminary hearing was scheduled for Oct. 2.

Blume is charged with one count of first-degree sexual assault of a child, at an Elm Grove motel in 1978, though the complaint indicates the victim in the case, a 12-year-old at the time, told police that several more assaults occurred in several states.

Blume's attorney, Jonathan LaVoy, said his client "vehemently denies the allegations," and has been cooperative throughout the investigation. Blume was allowed to return to his current home in Florida until the preliminary hearing, LaVoy said.

According to the complaint, the victim, now 43, had never told anyone about the incidents until he confided to his girlfriend last year. He later told family and decided to report the matter to police. He told investigators that Blume was kind and generous to him, and took him on trips out of state and to ski in Wisconsin. During the trips, they stayed in motels or at Blume's parents' home in Indiana, and Blume would assault him while they slept, the victim told investigators. At least one time, Blume told him to consider it their secret and not to tell anyone, the complaint indicates.

Earlier this year, Elm Grove Police Det. Craig Mayer flew to Florida to interview Blume, who told him he had worked as a brother for the Catholic Church and lived at the St. Charles Boys Home in Wauwatosa before leaving in 1978. He became a priest in 1980 but told Mayer he was forced to take a leave of absence in 1989.

Blume admitted knowing the victim and taking him and other boys on trips, but he denied ever sleeping next to the victim. When Mayer urged him to clear his conscience, Blume told the detective the assault might have happened, but he could not recall it.

Blume taught religious education classes at St. Luke's parish in Brookfield in the 1970s, according to Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, which tracks sexual abuse cases. Two civil suits were filed against Blume in the 1990s in Indiana, according to the group, and Blume was officially removed from the priesthood last year.

LaVoy said his client has not been a priest since 1989, and is technically retired.


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