Capuchin Priest with Milwaukee Ties Removed for Sex Abuse

By Annysa Johnson
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
January 5, 2015

A Catholic priest with ties to Wisconsin has been removed from his job as a teacher and coach at a high school in the Bronx after admitting that he sexually abused minors in Milwaukee and New York in the 1970s and '80s, his religious order announced on Monday.

The Rev. Robert Harrison was relieved of all public ministry, including his job at Cardinal Hayes High School, on Dec. 22, the same day he admitted abusing 10 minors over the years. Colleen Crane, Milwaukee spokeswoman for Harrison's religious order, the Detroit-based Capuchin province of St. Joseph, said it delayed announcing his dismissal until students could be told personally on their return from Christmas break.

A Milwaukee native, Harrison, 77, was one of the Milwaukee area's first African-American Catholic priests and the first black priest ordained by the Capuchins for service in the Milwaukee area, in 1964.

Between the 1960s and 70s, he served at St. Francis and St. Benedict the Moor parishes in Milwaukee, the St. Francis Friary, and the Carmelite School for Boys in Wauwatosa, according to the Capuchins.

He also appears to have taught at St. Francis School and Messmer High School, according to a Milwaukee Journal story in 1965.

Harrison did not surface as a potential abuser during an extensive internal review of files undertaken in 2013 to assess the religious order's handling of sexual abuse cases, according to Crane.

Crane said he admitted the abuse during an investigation into his finances. She said the allegations have been reported to district attorneys in Manhattan, the Bronx and Milwaukee.

Crane said victims or others with concerns can call Amy Peterson, director of pastoral care and conciliation, at (414) 374-8841, Ext. 22.








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