Clergy named in report held multiple assignments throughout La Crosse Diocese
By Mal Meyer
January 19, 2020
A report on clergy sexual abuse released by the Diocese of La Crosse shows the clergy members moved around several times. They served in churches, hospitals and schools throughout its 19 county area, and some served outside the Diocese.
A total of 25 clergy members with ties to the diocese were named in the child sexual abuse report released this weekend. They spent time in the Diocese of La Crosse, which has parishes throughout much of Western and Central Wisconsin.
The report goes on to list where these priests and deacons served. A number of those accused worked at the same places at some point, such as St. Joseph the Workman, Holy Trinity, St. James the Less and Aquinas High School in La Crosse.
Others had pastoral assignments with the Archdiocese of St. Paul/Minneapolis or at the Diocese of La Crosse as curia staff. Two of the clergy members were assigned to the Veterans Administration Hospital in Tomah.
It’s important to note that the diocese does not say where or when the alleged abuse occurred. Further, it said in the public report, “the fact that a specific parish is on the list does not mean that an act of abuse occurred at said parish. [Its] only significance is that a priest on our list once served at that parish.”
Any future allegations may be similar in this way. The diocese said if any more allegations are substantiated, it will add the name of the priest of deacon to the disclosure section of its website.
This differs from other reports, like the one from the Diocese of Winona-Rochester. It named 18 priests accused of abusing minors and other misconduct. And, it detailed the extent of the accusations against clergy members and the ways the church sometimes reassigned the priests after the allegations.
In a public statement, Bishop William Patrick Callahan did not address why the church did not include more information about where and when the conduct occurred. Instead, he focused on the disclosure of names as an important and necessary step.
The diocese has declined to make Bishop Callahan available for interviews to ask questions about the report.