February 11, 2005

Lawsuit accuses Milwaukee Archdiocese of fraud

Pioneer Press

Associated Press

ST. FRANCIS, Wis. The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee covered up for a priest convicted of sexual misconduct in the 1970s when church officials sent him to a new parish without warning of his past, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday.

A man who says he was abused by the late Rev. Siegfried Widera in the 1970s at the new parish filed the lawsuit against the archdiocese, seeking an unspecified amount of money.

The lawsuit said the archdiocese transferred Widera from Port Washington to the St. Andrew parish in Delavan in 1973, without warning anyone of his conviction of sexual misconduct earlier that year. The archdiocese later transferred Widera to California after he finished his three-year probation for the offense.

The lawsuit, filed in Milwaukee County Circuit Court, alleges the archdiocese's "intentional nondisclosure" caused the altar boy's molestation by Widera.

"This archdiocese is a very scary place because the children are not safe here," said Jeff Anderson, a Minnesota attorney representing the accuser. Anderson said the accuser is now in his 30s and lives in the Milwaukee area.

Posted by kshaw at February 11, 2005 07:36 AM