Priest LED Away in Handcuffs after Judge Hands down 1-year Sentence for Sexual Contact with Child
By Ashley Luthern
December 15, 2017
|The Rev. Robert R. Marsicek, 75, who had been the subject of numerous complaints from parents over the years and escaped a criminal charge in 2013, appeared in Milwaukee Circuit Court on Thursday.|
It started when she was in first grade, when she still had her baby teeth.
Robert Marsicek, a priest she trusted, repeatedly molested her at a Catholic school in Wauwatosa.
"My little self thought it was OK and I thought that this was normal," she said.
The girl, now 16, told a Milwaukee County Circuit Court judge how she cried herself to sleep or didn't sleep at all. She developed anxiety. She thought of hurting herself, even ending her life.
"I began to realize that he chose this for himself," she said. "He did this to me and I did not ask for it."
She asked Judge Mark A. Sanders to put Marsicek behind bars, even though prosecutors had recommended probation as part of a plea agreement.
Marsicek, 76, was convicted of touching the girl while at Pius X Parish and school in Wauwatosa between 2007 and 2011.
The girl told police the priest, known as "Father Bob," had grabbed her buttocks, touched her breast and reached under her jumper to "pat" her vagina on different occasions, according to the criminal complaint.
"I would love to see him spend the rest of his life in jail," she said. "I was told that he wouldn't because he's 'too old,' but why should I care about his age when he didn't care about mine?
"I will always have what he did to me in the back of my mind," she said.
Sanders listened intently and then, to the surprise of many in the courtroom, he sentenced Marsicek to one year in jail.
"Over a period of years, you repeatedly took sexual advantage of a young child — that by itself is grave conduct," Sanders told the priest. "It wasn't penetrative sex, it wasn't physically abusive sex, but there is no other way to describe it."
|Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Mark Sanders. (Photo: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel files)|
His conduct was compounded because he was a priest, Sanders said.
"It's not just an adult who has preyed upon the trust of a young child, but it is an adult who brings the weight of the church with them," he said. "The consequence of that is remarkable."
Marsicek originally faced three felony counts of first-degree sexual assault of a child but entered an agreement with prosecutors to plead guilty to fourth-degree sexual assault, a misdemeanor that involves sexual touching.
Marsicek apologized for his actions in court. His attorney and several others also spoke on his behalf, detailing his prior good work as a priest.
But Sanders said those deeds are now "tainted."
Marsicek was removed from ministry at St. Pius X Catholic Parish in Wauwatosa, Mother of Good Counsel Parish and School in Milwaukee and Wauwatosa Catholic School in 2013 after a teacher at Wauwatosa Catholic reported that Marsicek inappropriately touched a young girl.
At the time, Marsicek maintained he was just being affectionate and that any inappropriate touching was inadvertent. Since then, he has been placed on a "safety plan" through his religious order that includes counseling and ensuring he does not have contact with minors. He is still a priest.
Marsicek had a history of questionable contact with children during his 12 years at St. Pius X and had been counseled repeatedly by the archdiocese and his religious order, the Society of the Divine Savior, or Salvatorians, to stop touching them, according to documents obtained by police in 2013.
The sentence of jail time sends an important message to Marsicek and to the public, said Peter Isely of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP).
"He's going to feel what it's like to have his freedom confined and taken from him, in the way that he took it from this young child," Isely said. "It is a prison for many survivors when these things happen to them."