Molestation Suit Targets Diocese

By Pat Schneider
Capital Times
February 15, 1995

The Catholic diocese of Madison is accused in newly filed court documents of looking the other way as a priest repeatedly molested numerous children. An amended complaint to a year-old lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Dane County Circuit Court, accuses Rev. Michael Trainor, a longtime parish priest in Madison, of molesting seven additional minors in the 1970s and 1980s.

Trainor was accused of molesting B.M., an Eau Claire man bringing action under a pseudonym, in the original lawsuit filed in February 1994.

The new allegations accuse Trainor of molesting minors at the rectories of St. Thomas Aquinas Church, 602 Everglade Dr., Madison, and St. Henry's Church in Watertown. Other alleged assaults were said to have taken place in motels during overnight trips to Brewers games in Milwaukee.

Still other incidents were alleged to have taken place in Trainor's car and at a racquetball club.

When warned about inappropriate conduct by Trainor in the late 1970s, the late Bishop Cletus O'Donnell merely transferred Trainor from one parish to another, according to the lawsuit.

Madison attorney Don Heaney, who has represented the diocese in a number of sexual misconduct suits, including the one against Trainor, declined to comment on the new allegations.

The allegations are brought by now adult men living in Madison, Milwaukee, Jefferson County and Minnesota.

One plaintiff, suing under the pseudonym M.M., said he was sexually abused by Trainor when a nun brought him and other boys in his religious education class to Trainor's office at the St. Thomas rectory. Trainor would take each boy into his office, one at a time, and close and lock the door.

The lawsuit charges that Sister Georgeann Rodebusch knew that Trainor's conduct toward M.M. and the other children was "inappropriate," but failed to act.

One alleged victim, A.Z., said he was abused by Trainor more than 100 times, in a variety of places, including St. Henry's rectory. St. Henry's pastor, Rev. Harold Lauters, was aware of the abuse of A.Z., the lawsuit claims. When informed of the abuse of A.Z., O'Donnell transferred Trainor to St. Thomas parish. Neither parish's members were informed about why Trainor was moved.

Trainor left the Madison area in 1982 and is now believed to be living in Michigan. Each of the plaintiffs claims that coping mechanisms developed in response to the sexual abuse caused him to suppress memories of the abuse.

Each alleged victim also claims that he was injured psychologically and emotionally by Trainor's abuse, causing loss of earning capacity and ability to enjoy life. Each also claims expenses for medical and psychological help.


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