Sex-Offense Registry Mandatory for Priest

By Andy Nelesen
Green Bay Press-Gazette
December 22, 2004

Judge amends Stein sentence

The judge who sentenced former Norbertine priest James Stein to a year in jail and 10 years probation for molesting a 14-year-old boy has reversed part of her decision and now will require the 44-year-old man to register for life as a sex offender.

In a ruling issued Tuesday, Brown County Circuit Court Judge Sue Bischel wrote that, immediately after leaving the bench on Dec. 16, she second-guessed her decision not to require Stein to register.

"... At the end of the day, (I) became concerned that neither myself nor the attorneys had complete information regarding this issue because it was first raised at the conclusion of this very difficult hearing," Bischel wrote in her ruling.

Bischel alerted the lawyers involved that she planned to revisit the matter and discovered that an additional section of Wisconsin law governs who must register as a sex offender and for how long.

"After reviewing that statute, it appears registration is mandatory for the offense for which this defendant has been convicted with very limited exceptions," Bischel wrote.

Bischel said her review of the law dictates that Stein register for life, not the 15 years proffered by Stein's lawyer during the original arguments on the topic.

Stein was convicted in August of second-degree sexual assault of a child. He fondled a boy -- now 30 -- three times while visiting the swimming pool at the St. Norbert Abbey in 1988. Two identical companion charges were dismissed as part of a plea bargain.


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