Serious Allegations Require Serious Investigation

By Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Ernst-Ulrich Franzen
February 21, 2012

The allegations of what is in documents filed in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee bankruptcy are serious: 8,000 alleged sex offenses and as many as 100 previously unidentified offenders. And although the allegations cannot be independently verified because the documents are sealed, they deserve serious investigation, at the very least to determine if they are true.

That's why nine Democratic lawmakers were right Monday to call on the state's attorney general to investigate the allegations. It is possible that in those alleged 8,000 offenses and 100 possible offenders, there are cases that could still be prosecuted, and if there are, the state should prosecute with vigor. It may be the case that all cases are beyond the statute of limitations but it is worth an investigation to make sure.

The Journal Sentinel's Annysa Johnson reported Tuesday that the nine sent a letter to Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, calling the allegations, if true, "nothing short of a public safety crisis." And they asked him to investigate the alleged perpetrators and anyone who may have concealed a sex crime against a child.

"We know that, left unchecked, child sexual predators will reoffend," said the letter signed by state Sens. Lena Taylor, Julie Lassa, Robert Jauch and Jessica King; and Reps. Sandy Pasch, Chris Taylor, Robert Turner, Terese Berceau and Kelda Helen Roys.

The Archdiocese of Milwaukee, which filed for bankruptcy protection because of its mounting sex abuse claims, has said that it turns over all allegations involving living perpetrators to the appropriate district attorneys' offices. In cases involving religious-order priests and nuns, it requires the order to report it or the archdiocese will do so. That's all to the good. But given the numbers alleged, it makes sense to ask the attorney general to make sure.

Johnson reported that local bishops and key staff have been in Rome for a papal meeting and the elevation of former Milwaukee Archbishop Timothy Dolan to cardinal, and efforts to reach them and their attorneys were unsuccessful. Local bishops should support the nine Democratic legislators in their call for an investigation.








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