Green Bay Priest Removed from Ministry, under Investigation for Child Sex Assault

By John Pilmaier
SNAP Wisconsin
April 14, 2013

Today the Green Bay diocese issued a statement that one of its senior priests, Fr. Justin Werner, has been restricted from ministry due to a report of sexual abuse of a child or minor while he was at St. Edward in Mackville a few decades ago. Making this statement is a good start. The diocese now has to make sure parishes where Werner has been conducting ministry, especially recently, like St. Bernard’s in Appleton, are asked to help the police with any information on the case.

Child sexual abuse is the most unreported crime in the United States. Fewer than 10 percent of all victims report the crime, and it usually takes years, if not decades to come forward.

Because the alleged crimes took place under the old Wisconsin criminal statute of limitations for child sexual assault it is unlikely Werner will face prosecution.

While it is encouraging the diocese is notifying the public about Werner, why do they continue to be silent about the at least 51 clerics, as of 2004, acknowledged by the diocese to have confirmed, credible, and substantiated acts of sexual assault of a child or minor? 35 of those priests are diocesan and 16 belong to the Norbertine religious order, headquartered in De Pere.

As of 2008, of the 35 diocesan priests with substantiated reports of child sexual abuse in the Green Bay diocese, 17 are still alive.

That’s the last and only bit of information the diocese has given when pressured to do so by victim and children’s advocacy groups.

As always, we urge anyone who has been victimized, witnessed or suspects sexual abuse of a child or minor to contact the police.


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