Attorneys: Old Sex-abuse Prosecutions Tough but Possible

By Brandon Stahl
Duluth News Tribune
July 1, 2010

In 2006, the Rev. Bruce Duncan McArthur was charged in Dodge County, Wis., with sexually assaulting girls who were patients at a Beaver Dam hospital between 1965 and 1972. He eventually was convicted and sentenced to two years of jail time when he was in his 80s, but the prosecution, which went all the way to the Wisconsin Supreme Court, wasn’t easy.

“With the passage of time, no matter who the defendant is and who the victim is, memories fade,” said Dodge County Attorney William F. Bedker, who was involved in the indictment of McArthur and later the Supreme Court challenge. “The allegations become less credible among a jury of lay people. … The argument presented by the defense is: ‘If this happened, why wait?’ ”

Now a new case has emerged, of two men seeking prosecution of a former Wisconsin priest they say sexually assaulted them 27 years ago. Former Superior diocese priest Tom Ericksen is being accused by James and Paul Eck of assaulting them in 1983 when they were parishioners of St. Peter’s church in Winter, Wis.


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