Deposition of Bishop Sklba released with church documents

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Years ago, FOX6 News showed you the video deposition of Archbishop Rembert Weakland as it relates to clergy sex abuse cases within the Milwaukee Archdiocese. Now, we're learning more about Weakland's right-hand man.

The deposition of Bishop Richard Sklba was released on Monday, July 1st. Now retired, Sklba is a Vicar -- or higher-ranking clergy member -- at times, representing other priests.

Bishop Sklba was a priest for nearly 52 years. He knew much about the laws of church leadership. But when asked about some of the training outside of Scripture, he was at times, less knowledgeable.

In 2011 court documents, Sklba was asked if there was training to detect sexual abuse. His answers were not forthcoming. When asked if there was training for priests to manage their sexual lives so they would not engage in sexual abuse, Sklba found the tone offensive.

Eventually, Sklba admitted it was practice to report abuse to civil authorities only if the victim who reported it was under the age of 18. Further, he said if an adult came to him with a concern, he would suggest they go to civil authorities, adding it was not within his range of experience to do otherwise.

Sometimes the church kept logs about abuse allegations -- sometimes it didn't.

When asked if Sklba had any suspicions about abuse involving Ronald Bandle, James Beck or Michael Benham -- all now labeled clergy offenders by the Archdiocese -- he replied, not at all.

Sklba said people did not grasp the implications of sexual abuse until the early 1990s. He actually debated whether priests understood the severity of the damage to the victims.

The bishop discusses a so-called culture of silence with attorneys, saying there was silence by all professions regarding issues like this and other professional violations.

SNAP, the Survivors Network for Those Abused by Priests released the following statement Monday:

"With today’s devastating document release of thousands of pages of abuse related files, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, and especially Bishop Richard Sklba—who was called by former Archbishop Weakland his “go to guy” on all sexual abuse cases—is making the preposterous claim that his actions of leaving and putting pedophile clergy in parishes and schools was done “in the context of the time.”  Sklba specifically enjoys offloading his criminal responsibility for being Weakland’s second man to treatment “experts” who “advised” him at the time.

But in an open letter to Weakland in 1992 from the Division IV of the Wisconsin Psychological Association, the committee of state experts that work with sex offenders  (read the full 1992 story below) clearly shows this is utterly false.

“Since the early 1970s, there has been a general recognition among psychologists that pedophilia is a treatable mental illness, but that offenders should not be placed in environments where they could continue to abuse children,” the head of the APA group wrote at the time.  What Weakland and Sklba were doing was “like giving an alcoholic a job in a bar.”

Sklba’s fingerprints are spread over nearly a quarter of a century of child sex crimes.  Yet, he continues to hold a prominent role in the life of the Archdiocese, presiding at confirmations, masses at the cathedral, and living comfortably and well.

At a bare minimum, Sklba should gracefully bow out of public life in the Archdiocese like Weakland has, and be grateful he has not been prosecuted—as he should be—for criminal conspiracy.  And if he doesn’t do that -- it’s time for his boss, Jerome Listecki, to do it for him."