Priest Who Abused Not Removed from Seminary until Later

Associated Press State & Local Wire
April 20, 2002

A priest working at a Mount Calvary seminary wasn't removed until more than 10 years after it was reported he had inappropriate contact with the male students, a newspaper reported.

Tim Scott, a former teacher at the St. Lawrence Seminary, told Capuchin leaders during the 1981-'82 school year that Jude Hahn, a dormitory supervisor at the time, was having inappropriate contact with students.

"I heard one talking about so-and-so slept in Father Jude's room last night and things like that," Scott told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, as reported in Saturday's edition. "There were kids talking about him giving them back rubs, and there was also an incident in which a kid said Jude used a paddle on another kid's bare bottom."

Scott said he reported the matter to the seminary's rector, who said he would take care of it.

"I was told that he was talked to," Scott said. But Hahn was not removed as a dormitory supervisor.

Hahn did not return phone calls seeking comment.

Clarence Francis Hahn, now 71, was raised in Milwaukee and took the religious name Jude.

After his ordination in 1958, he took a job teaching math at St. Lawrence Seminary and became assistant pastor at Holy Cross church, both in Fond du Lac County's Mount Calvary.

After being sued by the boy he admitted molesting, Hahn testified in a 1994 deposition that he had molested the boy and had sexual contact with three other teen-age males beginning in the mid-1970s and continuing for at least several years.

Hahn said he met the young men through his work at the church and the sexual contact occurred in the young man's home, his rectory bedroom and during trips to visit Hahn's family in Washington state.

In March 1993, after refusing to continue treatment at a St. Louis facility, where he was sent after the seminary learned of the sexual misconduct allegations, Hahn submitted his resignation letters.

He said he did not want to accept the Capuchin order's proposed transfer to a post at its Detroit headquarters.

In a letter to Pope John Paul II, who approved Hahn's removal from the priesthood, Hahn wrote: "I was working with the teen-age community and found that acceptance and intimacy which I did not find with my religious community."

Capuchin Provincial Minister Kenneth Reinhart - Hahn's boss- supported Hahn's request to leave the priesthood "for the sake of protecting" the church and the Capuchin order "from scandal."

Reinhart also wrote to Hahn, asking that he accept his suspension quietly.

As part of Hahn's removal from the priesthood, a letter was needed from Archbishop Rembert Weakland.

Weakland noted in the letter, "It is my opinion that there would be no scandal involved if a dispensation were granted to Jude Hahn and if he continued to live here in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. To my knowledge, he is not well known in this area."

Weakland declined to comment, but his spokesman, Jerry Topczewski, said the letter wasn't an offer to let Hahn live in the Milwaukee area.

"It's a boiler-plate letter and has no implication of the archbishop's feeling at all on the behavior of (Hahn), which he, of course, thinks is terrible," Topczewski said.

The archbishop was simply supporting the Capuchin order's request to have Hahn removed from the priesthood, Topczewski said.

Hahn later moved to the West Coast.

Many court documents arising from a 1994 civil lawsuit filed against Hahn are under seal in Fond du Lac County.

Court records also indicate that St. Lawrence officials sought secrecy when other sexual misconduct allegations surfaced.

The allegations were first made public after a 1992-'93 investigation by The Milwaukee Journal. About two dozen young men told a reporter they had been abused as students at St. Lawrence.

Later, an investigation sponsored by the Capuchins found 14 allegations of sexual abuse involving six friars at the 142-year-old school.

Seminary officials were alerted to the alleged molestations as early as 1971, according to documents filed in lawsuits over the alleged abuse.

The incidents continued until at least 1987, but the seminary often ignored or downplayed allegations, the records show.

Felony sex crime charges were filed in two St. Lawrence cases, both in 1993, against one brother and one staff member. Both cases were dismissed.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.