Two Priests Exonerated, but Civil Suit Still Pending in Abuse Case

By Annysa Johnson
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
August 11, 2011

Two priests with local ties accused of abusing children at a Native American School in the 1970s, have been exonerated by a religious order review board, but the civil lawsuit against them is still pending in South Dakota.

Father Thomas Lind and Father William Pitcavage were returned to ministry after being cleared by the review board of the charges in February, said Mary Gorski, spokeswoman for their order, the Franklin-based Priests of the Sacred Heart. The order did not make the rulings public at the time, but responded to questions about the two in the wake of new allegations against a Sacred Heart priest this week.

In that case, Father David T. Szatkowski, 37, has been charged with sexual assault after allegedly groping the breast of a 15-year-old girl in La Crosse earlier this week.

Pitcavage, who was elected vice provincial last year, had served briefly in Wisconsin, as a deacon at St. James Catholic Church in Menomonee Falls in 1976-'77 and as a chaplain at St. Luke's Hospital in 1980-'81. He lives at the order's retirement home in Franklin. Lind, who is retired and lives in Mississippi, studied at Sacred Heart Seminary in Franklin from 1951 to '60 but never served in ministry in Wisconsin.

The lawsuit, which is pending before the South Dakota Supreme Court, was the first the order knew of the allegations against the men, according to Gorski, and the two had no prior allegations against them, she said.


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