Norbertines Place Priest on Leave
By Paul Srubas and Andy Nelesen
Green Bay Press-Gazette
May 8, 2002
A second area priest has been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation of sexual misconduct with a minor.
The Rev. Angelo Feldkamp, a Norbertine, was placed on leave by the Norbertine Order and removed from his duties as a teacher at Green Bay's Notre Dame Academy.
"I specifically asked, and they said he would not be returning to teach at Notre Dame Academy," said Beth Sheedy, associate principal of the school.
The accusation is more than 25 years old and cannot be prosecuted because the statute of limitations has expired, she said. The allegation involves no current or former student of Notre Dame, where Feldkamp has taught for 12 years, Sheedy said.
Feldkamp could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
Feldkamp is one of four Norbertine priests under investigation for improper conduct, according to Abbot E. Thomas De Wane.
Three priests, including Feldkamp, are on administrative leave while a fourth is no longer a member of the community, De Wane said in a release issued late Tuesday.
A review of the order's files four years ago revealed allegations against four other priests, who have been dead for more than 10 years.
Although he declined to offer details of the cases involving three priests now on administrative leave, De Wane told the Press-Gazette that the most recent accusation is about conduct that is 14 years old and the others are "20, even 30 years old."
De Wane said two of the Norbertine priests on administrative leave served in the Green Bay area while a third served elsewhere. He declined to say where.
When asked if there are other investigations pending within the order, De Wane said "I am aware of no others."
He said the Norbertine order did not plan to make the identities of the other priests public.
The Catholic Diocese of Green Bay earlier placed the Rev. Stanley Browne on administrative leave from his job as pastor of St. Mary of the Lake Parish in Lakewood. The measure was taken in response to an allegation of sexual abuse of a child in the early 1980s, when Browne was an assistant pastor at St. Peter & Paul Parish in Green Bay.
The Norbertines, as a religious community, handle personnel issues independently from the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay, diocesan spokesman Tony Kuick said.
Both the diocese and the Norbertines have been reviewing their own personnel records to search for allegations against past and present priests. It's unclear whether accusations against Feldkamp arose out of the Norbertines' records review.
The abbey's personnel director, the Rev. David Komatz, was available for comment Tuesday. Komatz said last week that the record review turned up only one case that involved an active investigation but that it turned up a couple that were not prosecutable because of the statute of limitations.
Sheedy said school officials were notified early last week that the abbey was pulling Feldkamp from his teaching duties.
"We immediately started calling former and current counselors and former and current administrators" of the school, Sheedy said. "We did a pretty detailed investigation, and based upon that investigation, we found no allegations or concerns regarding Angelo in his 12-year tenure here."
Feldkamp taught Latin part time at the school, she said. He had also been a part-time counselor there but dropped that part of his duties in 1997 because of increasing administrative duties at the abbey, she said.
School officials notified parents by mail and called an assembly and notified students Tuesday.
One parent expressed high praise for the school's handling of the issue.
"I do appreciate it," said Marilyn Antkowiak, who has a son who is a sophomore at the school and another who graduated from the school. "They are setting an example for my son that you have to follow the law and that you aren't guilty until you're proven guilty."
She said she hoped the charge against Feldkamp would prove to be untrue, and she called the announcement "horrible and painful." But she praised the school for its forthrightness.
"I think they seriously try to do the best they can, and that's pretty phenomenal in today's world," she said.
Sheedy said the Norbertines gave no details about where or when the offense was alleged to have happened or whether it involved a girl or boy.
Feldkamp was one of two priest-teachers working among a teaching faculty of about 60 at the school of 760 students. He'd worked there since the 1990 formation of the co-educational facility that started as a combination of three single-gender schools -- the all-boys Premontre and De Pere's Abbot Pennings and the all-girls St. Joseph's Academy.
Feldkamp taught at Abbot Pennings before joining the Notre Dame faculty.
The school has hired a Latin teacher to take over the class that Feldkamp had been teaching for the rest of the school year, Sheedy said. Only eight students were taking the class.
Meanwhile, De Pere police continue to investigate an allegation made by a former resident against a former De Pere Norbertine, both of whom now live out of state. And Green Bay police are investigating the accusation against Browne.
Those are the only two ongoing investigations of priests in Brown County, although there are other ongoing investigations within the diocese, in Winnebago and Outagamie counties, Kuick said.
Any original material on these pages is copyright © BishopAccountability.org 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.