Deceased Priest Added to Abuse List 15 Years after Rape Allegations
By Annysa Johnson
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
December 1, 2012
A deceased Catholic priest accused of raping a young girl in the 1970s has been added to the Archdiocese of Milwaukee's list of clergy restricted because of substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of children - 15 years after the victim first made the allegations against him.
The late Father Donald Musinski, who served parishes in and around Milwaukee for nearly 40 years, is only the second priest added to the list since it was first published in 2004.
The archdiocese had known about Musinski since at least 1997 when the victim, Karen Konter, reported him to Project Benjamin, the church's now-defunct program for sex abuse victims.
It declined to list him when then-Archbishop Timothy Dolan first published the names of 43 offender priests on the archdiocese website in 2004 because it could not substantiate the allegations, according to a letter sent to Konter the following year.
The archdiocese agreed to reopen her case last month, shortly after the failed mediation in the archdiocese's bankruptcy, in which Konter is a member of the creditors committee. It quietly added his name to the list this week.
"I'm pleased he's been named. But I'm saddened and frustrated and angry about the pain and all the years it's taken me to get to this point," said Konter, 54, who spoke publicly about the abuse Thursday, although her claim in the bankruptcy case is filed under court seal. "It's just anguishing to think a survivor has to go through all of that to be believed. It just blows me away."
Archdiocese spokeswoman Julie Wolf declined to discuss details of Konter's case or what changed in the intervening years, citing the confidentiality order imposed by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Susan V. Kelley regarding sealed claims.
The archdiocese did not announce Musinski's addition to the list, possibly because he is deceased, she said. Musinski died in 2006 at the age of 69.
According to Konter, she was an isolated and ostracized little girl, hobbled by polio and numerous surgeries, when she began volunteering at St. Adalbert's Catholic Church on Milwaukee's south side - stuffing bulletins and other small jobs - in the 1960s.
She said Musinski began molesting her when she was 8, before she could comprehend what he was doing, eventually progressing to rape by the time she graduated from eighth grade in 1972.
She said she suppressed the memories until 1997 when she was working on her 25th reunion, and they came flooding back.
When she went to Project Benjamin, she said, she was told that others had complained about Musinski.
Musinski was ordained in 1962 and served in parishes in Milwaukee, Belgium and Johnsburg before retiring in 1999, the archdiocese said.
Attorneys for victims in the bankruptcy maintain there are at least 100 additional sexual abusers - 75 of them priests - who appear in the bankruptcy claims but have never been placed on the archdiocese's list of offenders.
It is unclear how many of those are religious order priests, school or parish staff members and others for whom the archdiocese maintains it is not responsible.
Archdiocese or Vatican investigations are pending into allegations against at least three diocesan priests, two of whom have been named publicly. Archbishop Jerome Listecki found allegations against a fourth priest to be unsubstantiated.
Peter Isely of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests credited Listecki for adding Musinski's name to the list.
But it raises questions, he said, about the other alleged offenders in the case and the status of clerics on leave.
"This is one individual, among potentially many dozens of individuals. That's our concern," he said. "What's happening to these investigations, and why is this guy named (as an offender) and nobody else?"