November 14, 2005

Two Families Seek Church Accountability in Abuse Cases

Washington Post

By Alan Cooperman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, November 14, 2005; Page A03

Sally Ellison does not have an appointment with the leaders of the Roman Catholic Church. She is not even a Catholic. But she is flying 900 miles from her home in Wisconsin to Washington today for a meeting of U.S. bishops, and she thinks they should hear what she has got to say.

"Because of their negligence, my son is dead. I think that's a pretty good reason for them to listen to me, don't you?" she said.

After an unusual hearing last month, a judge in Hudson, Wis., ruled that a Catholic priest, the Rev. Ryan Erickson, "probably" murdered James Ellison, 22, and Daniel O'Connell, 39, on Feb. 5, 2002.

The troubled and troublesome priest, who had a penchant for real handguns and for pretending to shoot people with his thumb and index finger, avoided prosecution by hanging himself from a rectory fire escape last year.

But at the conclusion of the "John Doe hearing" -- a form of trial without a defendant that is allowed in just five states -- St. Croix County Circuit Judge Eric J. Lundell said he was convinced that Erickson, 31, shot the two men after O'Connell accused him of molesting children.

Posted by kshaw at November 14, 2005 10:22 PM