February 13, 2005

A priest who refused to look the other way

The Journal Times

By Lee Roberts

Amid what is described as a disturbing account of the events that took place during the cover-up of a priest's sexual crimes is a ray of light provided by a member of Racine's clergy, according to Peter Isely, Midwest director of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests.

That light comes in the form of words spoken by the Rev. Paul Esser, of St. Paul the Apostle Church, 6400 Spring St., back in the 1970s, in regard to the sexual abuse case of the late Rev. Siegfried Widera.

Widera was a Wisconsin priest who was convicted of sexual misconduct with a teenage boy in Wisconsin in 1973 and charged with 42 counts of child molestation in Wisconsin and California when he died in May 2003 after leaping from a hotel balcony in Mexico.

When the archdiocese was considering transferring Widera to a parish in California following his conviction, Esser, who was serving on the Milwaukee Archdiocese's Priests Personnel Board at the time, spoke out in objection to the transfer.

Esser's comments appear to be the only objection noted during a meeting of the Priest's Personnel Board that took place in 1976, according to recently published documents from the archive of the Archdiocese, Isely said. And he and others feel Esser should be honored for his actions in trying to stop the transfer of the pedophile priest.

Posted by kshaw at February 13, 2005 06:06 AM