The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Release
New Milwaukee Archbishop appears to have nation’s “worst record” on dealing with child sex abuse reports
Bishop Listecki’s diocese of La Crosse left higher percentage of priests accused of child abuse in ministry than anywhere in country
64 percent of accused priest left in ministry in La Crosse as opposed to under 10 percent nationwide
Listecki also wrote Eau Claire police chief in April he won’t change reporting policy to notify law enforcement
Of the 28 priests that the La Crosse diocese says, as of 2004, were alleged to have assaulted children, 18 were left in ministry. That number represents the highest “clearance rate” for priests accused of abuse in the United States.
According to the La Crosse Tribune, “ A 2004 study by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice found the church had cleared 64 percent of priests in the La Crosse diocese accused of sexual abuse. Nationwide, the clearance rate was about 10 percent, according to a report commissioned by United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.” (http://www.andersonadvocates.com/NewsListing.aspx?ID=191)
Equally alarming, the official policy of the diocese of La Crosse is to have child sex abuse by priests reported directly to the bishop not to civil authorities as urged to do so by law enforcement.
In April of 2009, Eau Clair police chief Jerry Matysik (pasted below) wrote Listecki to change the diocese abuse notification policy. Listecki refused to do so. According to Matysik in a letter to the Eau Claire Leader Telegram. “Until the diocese adopts a policy of public transparency, the loss of trust in the church will be hard to rebuild. Crimes involving the abuse of children are of the highest priority, and these matters must be handled promptly, professionally and in the light of day by public agencies designed to do so.”
4/2/09 LETTER TO THE EDITOR FROM EAU CLAIR POLICE CHIEF TO EAU CLAIRE LEADER-TELEGRAM CONCERNING BISHOP LISTECKI
The Catholic Diocese of La Crosse regularly publishes the following notice in the The Catholic Times newspaper: "Anyone wishing to make a report of an allegation of sexual abuse should send that report to Bishop Jerome E. Listecki." I believe the wording of this public notice is misguided.
A similar notice published by the Diocese of Superior states, "Any current incidents of sexual abuse of a minor by anyone must be reported to civil authorities." This notice sends the correct message.
Members of the Diocese of La Crosse need to know that sexual abuse is a crime and should always be reported to police before notifying the organization where the crime occurred. Church leaders will be notified at the appropriate time by investigating authorities. I am not questioning Bishop Listecki's motives, and I believe he is well-intentioned. However, proper procedures shouldn't rely on our trust in this or any future bishop. I exchanged letters with the bishop about my concerns. He disagrees with my suggestion to change the notice.
This simple change would demonstrate that the diocese supports an impartial investigation and ensure that the church could not cover up the matter even if tempted to do so. One reason the Catholic Church has a sex abuse crisis is because it handled these matters internally without notifying civil authorities. Sadly, many church leaders were more interested in the reputation of the church than the welfare of victims.
Until the diocese adopts a policy of public transparency, the loss of trust in the church will be hard to rebuild. Crimes involving the abuse of children are of the highest priority, and these matters must be handled promptly, professionally and in the light of day by public agencies designed to do so.
Chief, Eau Claire Police Department
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests