Here's What We Know about Thomas Ericksen, Former Priest Accused of Assaulting Children
By Laura Schulte
Wausau Daily Herald
February 7, 2019
|Former Catholic priest Thomas Ericksen looks back on the gallery during a preliminary hearing on Wednesday, December 12, 2018, at the Sawyer County courthouse in Hayward, Wis. Ericksen is accused of sexually assaulting three children between June 1982 and April 1983. Tork Mason/USA Today NETWORK-Wisconsin (Photo: Tork Mason/USA Today NETWORK-Wisconsin)|
Nearly nine years after victims first told police that Thomas Ericksen molested them when they were children, the former Wisconsin priest is behind bars as four sexual-assault cases against him make their way through the legal system.
The allegations were initially met with inaction and delays by law enforcement, but there have been many new developments in recent weeks as more victims have come forward.
Here's what we know so far about Ericksen:
Ericksen was ordained in the early 1970s and served as a priest in Eagle River, Merrill, Winter and other parishes. The Sawyer County Sheriff's Department first investigated the priest in 1983, but ended up releasing him to then-Bishop of Superior George Albert Hammes after Ericksen confessed to investigators that he "had a problem."
The Superior Diocese settled with several victims from Winter for $3 million, and Ericksen was removed from the priesthood. He moved to Minneapolis. There were no criminal charges.
Two survivors reported their abuse to authorities in 2010, according to interviews with the men. Investigators began to look into Ericksen's time as a priest in Wisconsin, relating only to his time in the town of Winter.
A Sawyer County Sheriff's Department investigator received a confession from Ericksen during an interview at his home in Minneapolis, and forwarded information from his investigation to Sawyer County District Attorney Bruce Poquette. The district attorney's office did not file charges until November 2018, two weeks after USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin submitted open records requests to the district attorney and the Sheriff's Department.