Survivors and Advocates in Wisconsin call for AG Intervention

This Saturday, June 6, family and supporters of a Green Bay clergy abuse victim who took his life in March will publicly call on the Wisconsin Attorney General to join other states in investigating cases of clergy sexual abuse, holding perpetrators and enablers accountable, and ending sexual violence.

WHEN: June 6, 2020 at Noon

WHERE: St. Norbertine Abbey Sidewalk, 3774 S. Webster Ave, De Pere, Wisconsin

WHY: The family of Nathan Lindstrom, a Green Bay clergy abuse victim who took his life on March 9th, will be holding a vigil and gathering outside the Norbertine Abbey in DePere, Wisconsin. At this vigil, they will call on Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul to support legislation to reform Wisconsin's Child Protection laws and join nearly two dozen states in investigating abusers in the state's faith based institutions and schools.

Nathan was 48 years old and left behind a family and three young children. During his life, Nathan was a dedicated advocate for other survivors and provided support to others while also pressing elected officials to do more to protect children. Now, in Nathan's memory and honor, his family are continuing his fight on his behalf and are have written a letter, copied below, to A.G. Kaul.

CONTACT: David Lindstrom (920.606.5596, lindstromd@sbcglobal.net)

***

Dear Attorney General Kaul & Director Viste,

We are writing to you as the family of Nathan Lindstrom. On behalf of Nate we are requesting a meeting with you to urge you to take decisive steps to prevent another injustice and tragedy like this.

Nate was a victim of sexual assault as a minor by a Green Bay Priest of the Norbertine Religious Order. On March 9, Nate took his own life. He was 46 years old. He left behind a beautiful and loving family, including his wife and three young children. We believe this act was the direct result not only of the abuse he suffered as a child but with how his pleas for justice and help were repeatedly ignored and mishandled by the Norbertines and the Green Bay Diocese.

As you are aware, Wisconsin law provides no access to civil courts where Nate and his fellow clergy abuse survivors can exercise their rights to bring their cases for restitution and institutional accountability. This included his right, as a victim, to the evidence about the priest who assaulted him and what church officials knew and did about his abuser.

Incredibly, Nate had no option left for justice but to return to same individuals who had been historically involved in the cover up of these crimes and the protection of abusive priests. As a family, we joined with Nate in these efforts only to be met time and again with delay, misinformation, obstruction and secrecy.

Norbertine officials are accountable to virtually no one under Wisconsin law, which allows them to continue to operate as if outside the law. This protects the wrong individuals – not victims or children but abusive clergy, bishops and religious order provincials. Church officials have been allowed for years in Wisconsin to investigate themselves, shield abusers, and mistreat and ignore victims seeking justice and healing. This is wrong and it must change. We believe you can help to change it.

Nathan struggled his entire life with the horrific consequences of the crimes that were committed against him as a teenager. His treatment by Norbertine officials in Wisconsin, especially during the months before he ended his life, significantly precipitated the depression, despair and hopelessness that led to his death. Sadly, Nathan's story is not unique among the many survivors of clerical sexual abuse across our country. Too many survivors are suffering like Nate, despite their heroic efforts to overcome the trauma of childhood sexual abuse, and even with the support and love of their family, friends and fellow survivors. Without justice and real reform this will continue to be the appalling result.

Survivors and their families have been urging you for over a year to open a statewide investigation of clergy abuse and cover up in Wisconsin, as is being done in nearly two dozen states around the U.S. Even in these difficult times, investigations are preceding because of the urgency and significance of these criminal acts and the need for institutional accountability for abuse within faith based organizations and institutions. Such an investigation is needed in Wisconsin, which has a long and documented history of abuse and institutional cover up.

We are asking you on behalf of Nate to use the authority granted to you by the power of your office as Wisconsin’s chief law enforcement official to immediately open an investigation of all Wisconsin dioceses and religious orders, beginning with a review of the thousands of pages of church abuse documents, which have never been seen by any law enforcement officials in our state. We are also asking you to take a visible, active and public stance supporting two important pieces of legislation: the Wisconsin’s Child Victims Act and the Wisconsin Clergy Reporting Law. The Child Victims Act would open the civil statute on child sex abuse to victims like Nate and end the unwarranted immunity given to religious officials and organizations that harbor and protect child sex offender clergy, ministers and teachers. The Clergy Reporting law would finally require all clergy to be mandatory reporters of child abuse, which is the law for almost 30 other professions working with children and families in the State of Wisconsin.  

Nate was a precious and irreplaceable being. He was a kind, gentle soul. He was bright, gifted and extraordinarily generous. He loved his family and his children dearly. When he was a boy his faith meant everything to him. He and we never could have imagined that his faith and his innocence would be taken from him by the church in which he was raised, would abandon him and cause a lifetime of pain. Although Nate never gave up on his belief in justice, he despaired that there would ever be justice for himself and his fellow survivors in Wisconsin. It is in the name of Nate's love for justice, a justice that was denied him, that we are asking you to finally address the injustice that took him from us.

Sincerely,


David L. Lindstrom, Nathan’s father

Mary J. Lindstrom, Nathan’s mother

Karen J. Lindstrom, Nathan’s wife

David E. Lindstrom, Nathan’s brother

Aaron J. Lindstrom, Nathan’s brother


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