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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Release

Ousted WI clerical child predator is now teaching at a school

He worked for Milwaukee archdiocesan high school until he was sued & suspended

WI teaching license was denied, newspaper reports today

But he moved to Hawaii and now works at a prestigious private boarding school

His religious order, the Capuchins, now admitting he abused youngsters at St. Lawrence Seminary, Mt. Calvary

He left church supervised sex offender monitoring in 2001

Group urging Milwaukee archdiocese to “disclose names and whereabouts of other religious order molesters”

WHAT
Holding signs and childhood photos at a sidewalk news conference, clergy sex abuse victims will
-- disclose that a former Wisconsin Catholic cleric, ousted because of abuse allegations, now teaches in Hawaii
-- urge his current and former religious order employers, the Capuchins, to warn others about him,
-- prod the Hawaiian school to suspend him, and
-- call on the Milwaukee archdiocese to disclose the names, status, and whereabouts of other credibly accused child molesting clerics, especially those from religious orders that have moved elsewhere

WHEN
Friday, September 25, 2:00 p.m.

WHERE
In front of the Cousins Center, Headquarters of the Milwaukee archdiocese, 3501 S. Lake Dr., St. Francis

WHO
Wisconsin leaders of the national support group SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org)

WHY
Todays' Honolulu Star Bulletin reports that “Brother” Thomas J. Gardipee, a former Wisconsin Catholic religious order cleric who has been accused of child sexual abuse and misconduct in the Milwaukee archdiocese, now works at a private school in Hawaii. SNAP wants him to be suspended and his hiring investigated.

http://www.starbulletin.com/news/20090925_Kamehameha_Schools_hiring_of_teacher_challenged.html

Gardipee is one of potentially dozens of religious order clerics from the archdiocese that abused children but whose identities and whereabouts are being kept secret by church officials. Although the archdiocese has released a partial list of 48 diocesan priest offenders in 2004, they have refused to release their list of religious order child molesters. Religious order clerics comprise half the priests and clerics working in the archdiocese, one of the highest concentrations in the United States. Over two dozen religious order clerics who have abused children either in the Milwaukee archdiocese or transferred here at one time have been identified in various registries, press stories, criminal convictions and civil lawsuits.

Gardipee teaches grade 10 social studies on the Kapalama campus of the Kamehameha Schools in HA. (http://kapalama.ksbe.edu/). An internet search also reveals that Gardipee has taken youngsters on trips overseas in recent years and some of the students apparently live at the school. But in 1992, he was one of five faculty members at a Milwaukee archdiocesan high school accused by former students of sexual assault or sexual misconduct in the late 1970s and 1980s. He was eventually suspended by his employer, the Capuchin Franciscans, and faced criminal charges and at least one civil lawsuit.

"At least twice, this suspended and accused child molester escaped legal action even though his own employer admitted to having previously fired him for similar sexual misconduct with kids," said Barbara Blaine of Chicago. She's the founder and president of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org). "Gardipee's Wisconsin church supervisors ousted him and then would not allow him to teach or be around children for nine years until he left their monitoring program and fled Wisconsin. He should be suspended immediately while Hawaiian criminal, church and school officials investigate."

The allegations against Gardipee first came to light in a 1992 Milwaukee Journal investigative series about the school, a Catholic boarding high school seminary called St. Lawrence. It is run by the Detroit-based Capuchin order and is located in Mt. Calvary, near Fond du Lac. At the time, Gardipee was a Capuchin friar and the school's athletic director.

Gardipee reportedly gave students condoms, liquor, and erotic magazines. In December 1992, his Capuchin supervisors suspended Gardipee for masturbating in front of a student, and revealed that Gardipee had been fired earlier for similar allegations. SNAP also has information that at least one other former St. Lawrence student was offered counseling by the Capuchins after reporting to Capuchin attorneys and investigators that he was sexually abused by Gardipee while a student in the early 1980’s. Gardipee, according to court records in Wisconsin, was placed into secure sex offender treatment out of state and then returned to be monitored by the Capuchins.

In 1993, Gardipee was placed by the Capuchins in a Wisconsin retreat facility in Marathon, was forbidden to teach or have any unsupervised contact with minors. According to news reports today, he left the religious order in 2001. Capuchin and archdiocesan authorities have not, until today, admitted that they determined Gardipee guilty of child sex crimes at the seminary. Church authorities made no public notice when Gardipee left sex offender monitoring and supervision.

In the 1993 arrest, Fond du Lac County prosecutor filed felony criminal charges against Gardipee, alleging that he “enticed a child for immoral purposes and intimidated a victim.” Those charges were later dropped. ''The judge did seem to find there was lewd and lascivious conduct," said then-prosecutor Thomas Storm, but that is a misdemeanor and outside the statute of limitations. A July 1993 Milwaukee Sentinel article says that the judge ended the case even though he found that “Gardipee had masturbated in front of a boy.”

In April 1993, a 21-year-old alumnus of the Wisconsin school filed a civil lawsuit (believed to be against Gardipee and the Capuchins), charging that Gardipee was “sexually abused, harassed and stalked” him when he was as a 16- or 17-year-old high school student. The next year, that suit was expanded to include claims that the Capuchins were guilty of 'racketeering.'

That legal action was also thwarted in 1995, when, in an unusual ruling, the Wisconsin Supreme Court said that the church was constitutionally protected from liability for acts such as negligent supervision of priests and other employees. (The court has since somewhat reversed that finding.)

"It's reckless for a school to knowingly hire a credibly accused child molester, with his teaching license denied, and his former employer having fired him from teaching and having him monitored for any contact with children," said Blaine of SNAP. "And if Kamehameha didn't know about allegations against Gardipee, they're irresponsible for not checking his past more thoroughly. They need to take steps right now to safeguard the kids in their care."

The Kapalama's campus president and headmaster is Dr. Michael Chun.

The Wisconsin attorney who represented one of Gardippe's alleged victims in a civil suit is Robert L. Elliott, 414.225.9000. Attorney Frank Steeves, 414.276.1122, represented St. Lawrence and Gerald Boyle, 414.343.3300, represented Gardipee. (Boyle also represented serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer.) Both lawyers are from Milwaukee.

Other defendants included Fr. Joseph Diermeier (the then-rector of Wisconsin school during some of the allegations), Fr. Kenneth Reinhart (the then-head of the order) and Catholic Mutual Group (an Omaha, Neb., insurance company). Other accused St. Lawrence clerics include Fathers Gale Leifeld, James Buser, Jude Hahn, and Brother John Raniszewski. None is believed to be in ministry today or are deceased.

“Let's hope that anyone who saw, suspected or suffered any of Gardipee's misdeeds - in Hawaii or Wisconsin - will come forward, get help and take action to protect others,” said. Peter Isely, Midwest Director, SNAP-Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, Milwaukee WI,

Gardipee is believed to be in his early 50s now.

CONTACT
Mike Sneesby, Co Director, SNAP Milwaukee, 414.915.4374
Peter Isely, SNAP Midwest Director, 414.429.7259
Anne Barrett Doyle, Bishops-Accountability.org, 781.439.5208
David Clohessy, SNAP National Director, 314.566.9790


Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
www.snapnetwork.org
 


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