Retired Priest Who Flashed Teen Asks to Be Freed from Jail to Live Life in Peace
By Haley BeMiller
April 25, 2019
|Richard Lee Thomas. (Photo: Courtesy of the Wisconsin Department of Corrections)|
A retired Catholic priest who exposed himself to a teenager is asking to be released from jail after being sent there for a probation violation.
Richard Thomas, 81, was sentenced in February to eight months of conditional jail time after he sought out minors at Bay Motel and Family Restaurant. He asked them personal questions, touched a boy on the shoulder and told a girl he would date her if he were her age.
The incidents violated the three years of probation Thomas received after pleading no contest in 2016 to two felony counts of exposing his genitals to a child. Brown County Judge Timothy Hinkfuss also sentenced him to four months in jail.
After his release from jail, Thomas also had a documented violation for having in-person contact with a minor and accompanying her to Tundra Lodge Resort and Waterpark, court documents show. It's unclear when that occurred.
In a letter to Hinkfuss this month, Thomas said the jail time is exacerbating a digestive system condition that causes him pain. According to Thomas, the jail's doctor is aware of his issues and authorized to send him to a hospital.
Thomas volunteered to discuss the matter further in court, saying he would agree to any conditions required of him. He claimed he can "do what is right and good and not be in any trouble."
"All I wish is to be free to live the rest of my life in peace," he wrote. "This is my hope and my prayer."
Thomas was one of 47 priests named by the Green Bay diocese earlier this year as having substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of a minor against them. Prior to the 2016 incident, Thomas was arrested for indecent exposure in 1990 and again in 1993, when he was convicted.
Thomas served at several Catholic churches in the Green Bay area, and also was assigned to churches in Kaukauna, Menasha and Oneida. After a canonical process, he was ordered to live a life of prayer and penance in 2017, the diocese said. The church stripped him of his clerical duties in 2018.
Thomas' projected release date is Oct. 24.
Contact Haley BeMiller at (920) 431-8212 or firstname.lastname@example.org . Follow her on Twitter at @haleybemiller.