Priest No Longer Hospital Chaplain
Pastor Accused of Molesting 4 Has Left Covenant, Official Says

By Joe Manning
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
April 23, 2002

Father David J. Hanser, one of six priests in the Milwaukee Archdiocese with alleged or confirmed records of sexual abuse who are still in active ministries, no longer works as a chaplain at St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center, a Covenant Healthcare System spokesman said Monday.

Hanser, 70, worked 32 hours a week as a chaplain at St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center. He had notified the Milwaukee Archdiocese and St. Joseph's that he planned to retire in early May.

"Father Hanser announced his retirement on April 1 and is no longer working within the Covenant organization," said Paul Markovina, Covenant spokesman. "During his years of service with Covenant, Father Hanser was counseled and monitored by a psychiatrist under the auspices of the archdiocese."

The archdiocese allowed Hanser to continue working after the molestation allegations against him came to light in the late 1980s. His hospital work was to be monitored, and his contact with children was restricted.

A story in Sunday's Journal Sentinel questioned the effectiveness of those restrictions.

Covenant hospital personnel as well as a former St. Joseph's president said they did not know of any restrictions on Hanser, who was also a member of the hospital's ethics committee.

Archdiocesan and Covenant spokesmen said in Sunday's story that key officials at the hospital were repeatedly informed of Hanser's background and that he had been monitored over the years.

In Sunday's story, John Ramstack, 45, said he and three brothers were molested by Hanser after Hanser befriended his parents. Ramstack, who lives in Waukesha County, said much of the sexual abuse occurred at Hanser's cottage on Moose Lake in the Town of Merton, where the family was often invited.

The archdiocese had known details of the abuse since 1988 and reached an out-of-court settlement with Ramstack in 1989. The settlement prohibited Hanser from having unsupervised contact with children.

Hanser also served as chaplain at Elmbrook Memorial Hospital in Brookfield and was on call once a month for night assignments at St. Joseph's, Elmbrook and two other Covenant hospitals, according to a Covenant spokesman.

Archdiocesan spokesman Jerry Topczewski said Hanser entered treatment after allegations came to light. He was assigned to his hospital duties at St. Joseph's in 1991 after a therapist assured archdiocesan officials there was no risk to children.

No incidents of abuse involving Hanser while he worked at the Covenant facilities have been reported.

Hanser could not be reached for comment Monday.


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