Diocesan Priests with Substantiated Allegations of the Sexual Abuse of a Minor Against Them
Date of Release: January 17, 2019
About this list
This list comprises the names of incardinated priests of the Diocese of Green Bay against whom there is one or more substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of a minor. Incardinated priests are those who were ordained for service within the Diocese of Green Bay or who requested a transfer into the Diocese after their ordination elsewhere. This list does not contain priests ordained for service within a religious order.
Since 1906, the ordination date of the priest with the earliest documented allegation of sexual abuse of a minor, a total of 630 ordained priests have served within the Diocese of Green Bay. Of that number, 47 priests have had a substantiated (defined below) allegation of the sexual abuse of a minor made against them. Additionally, there are 16 priests and 2 deacons accused of the sexual abuse of a minor who, after investigation, and review by the Independent Review Board, were either exonerated or the allegation against them unsubstantiated.
The Diocese of Green Bay follows the directives of the 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People written by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. All allegations received by the Diocese are taken seriously and investigated as thoroughly as possible. Additionally, this work is reviewed and confirmed by the work of an Independent Review Board. All allegations categorized substantiated are immediately reported to the District Attorney or other law enforcement of the county where the alleged abuse had taken place. An allegation is categorized to be “substantiated” when, based upon the facts and circumstances of the case, there is a reasonable cause to suspect that the sexual abuse of a minor has occurred. This is comprised, in part, of the certainty of the accuser that the abuse took place, that the allegations is internally consistent regarding a time, place and date, and that other facts surrounding the accuser’s claims appear to be accurate. Any substantiated allegation of the sexual abuse of a minor which is subsequently proven in a civil or canonical forum leads to the priest’s permanent removal from public ministry and possible criminal prosecution. Additional penalties in church law are imposed upon that priest up to and including dismissal from the priesthood. Currently there are no known priests serving in active ministry in the Diocese of Green Bay who have had a substantiated allegation of the sexual abuse of a minor against them.
The following list of priests is based upon investigations that have been completed. The results of these investigations were confirmed through the services of the investigative firm of Defenbaugh and Associates, Inc. which was given full and complete access to all diocesan files. The Independent Review Board, after receiving and reviewing their report, recommended to the Bishop that the list be published. The independent work of Defenbaugh and Associates, Inc. and the Independent Review Board is consistent with the internal findings of the Diocese regarding the number of priests who have abused.
It is important to note that inclusion on this list does not, by itself, mean that the accused priest has been found guilty of a crime or liable for any civil claim. In some, but not all cases an accused priest was tried and found guilty or liable by civil authorities. In every case, however, the Diocese conducted an investigation based upon church law which often resulted in the priest being permanently removed from ministry.
Many of the substantiated allegations were made decades after the alleged abuse took place, making it difficult to conduct a complete civil or church investigation. Also, because most of the substantiated allegations were made many years after the civil statute of limitations had passed, the civil authorities were unable to fully investigate the matter or bring charges. Some of these allegations were made after the accused priest had died and therefore the priest did not have the opportunity to respond to the allegation.
Update as of April 4, 2019:
When the disclosure list was first published on Jan. 17, 2019, one name was withheld due to a pending detailed legal review, according to the diocese. A full review of that allegation has now taken place and the Independent Review Board (IRB) has recommended, after a further clarification of the facts, that the alleged abuse, which was reported to have occurred over 60 years ago, was unsubstantiated and that the name of the priest not be included on the disclosure list.
Furthermore, after additional victims came forward following the initial release of the disclosure list, three priests previously with a single allegation against them have now received multiple allegations of abuse. These additional dates of abuse have been posted to the disclosure list on the diocesan website. Several other names already included in the multiple-allegations listing will also be updated to reflect additional dates. The disclosure list is also updated to include one new name of a diocesan priest with a newly substantiated allegation of sexual abuse of a minor.
*Any future updates to the disclosure list will be made following the recommendation of the Independent Review Board and the notification of the District Attorney in the county where the abuse was alleged. These updates will be reflected below, noting next to the priest’s name, the date information was updated.
1. Priests of the Diocese of Green Bay with a substantiated allegation of the sexual abuse of a minor.
This section contains the names of the thirty-seven priests of the Diocese of Green Bay during the past 112 years against whom a substantiated allegation of sexual abuse of a minor was received and investigated while the priest was alive or against whom multiple substantiated allegations were received and investigated after the priest had died. While an allegation received after a priest is deceased does not provide the opportunity for the priest to respond, multiple allegations against him may indicate a corroborative pattern of abuse which supports the conclusion of a substantiated allegation. Each substantiated allegation was received and investigated by the Diocese of Green Bay and then reviewed and confirmed by the Diocesan Independent Review Board. All substantiated allegations were reported to the District Attorney of the county where the alleged abuse had taken place whether the priest was living or deceased.
To view details regarding each person, click on their name.
William Kiernan (Updated 4/4/19)
Clarence Leitermann (Updated 4/4/19)
Norbert Rank (Updated 4/4/19)
Donald Rose (Updated 4/4/19)
Thomas Stocker (Updated 4/4/19)
Gerald Van Nuland (Updated 4/4/19)
Alphonse Wagner (Updated 4/4/19)
Jerome Watry (Updated 4/4/19)
Walter Williams (Updated 4/4/19)
2. Priests of the Diocese of Green Bay with a single substantiated allegation of the sexual abuse of a minor made after the priest’s death.
This section contains the names of ten priests of the Diocese of Green Bay during the past 112 years against whom a single substantiated allegation of the sexual abuse of a minor was received after his death. While any allegation received is investigated to the extent possible, an allegation received after a priest is deceased does not provide the opportunity for him to respond. Each substantiated allegation was received and investigated by the Diocese of Green Bay and then reviewed and confirmed by the Diocesan Independent Review Board. All substantiated allegations were reported to the District Attorney of the county where the alleged abuse had taken place even if the priest was deceased.
To view details regarding each person, click on their name.