Priest sex abuse victims dispute judge's observations

MILWAUKEE -- Local activists want the names of 100 alleged child abusers made public after a federal judge ruled that parents should not be concerned about sex abusers still working for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, known as SNAP, held a news conference Tuesday to dispute the judge's observations.

Last week, in Bankruptcy Court, federal judge Susan Kelley said she had not found evidence that people should be concerned about current employees of the Milwaukee Archdiocese.  The judge made the comments in court weeks after advocates for sex abuse victims said the Archdiocese faced a personal safety crisis.

“From my independent review, without an agenda, my review shows there is no public safety concern.  None whatsoever,” Judge Susan Kelley said. Kelley claims that the comments made by SNAP are just a distraction.

Earlier this month, lawyers for victims of sexual abuse said there were 100 new sex offenders identified in more than 8,000 accounts of sexual abuse (in their claims). This number was well publicized.

Members of SNAP (The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) along with members of, called those numbers a “personal safety crisis.” The group wants an investigation by the attorney general into who these people are in case there are current members of the Archdiocese identified in court documents. "Put child protection first, and do what attorneys general and district attorneys have done. Around the country, about a dozen prosecutors have investigated dioceses for cover-up of sexual abuse," Anne Barrett-Doyle, with said.

The church argues that all of the alleged sex offenders identified are either dead of have been turned into authorities. In court, Judge Kelley agreed with the church, claiming there is no public safety concern.

However, SNAP members are not convinced that there is no public safety concern. SNAP says representatives met with the attorney general's office Monday. "They're concerned about the safety of children. They're concerned about what's happening with these individuals. They're going to see what they can do," SNAP Midwest President Peter Isely said.

SNAP says it has found three alleged abusers still working with kids, one of whom is a pastor on leave in the Milwaukee area. An official from that church says his parish is safe. "All of our staff members and any volunteers who work with children must have criminal background checks and participate in safe-environment training," the church official said.

FOX6 is not identifying these three individuals because they have not been charged. In the case of the pastor, it is because the allegations date back to the 70s, and the district attorney determined the statute of limitations expired. "When a prosecutor has political will, they find a way to put children first, and not let themselves be hog-tied by statutes," Barrett-Doyle said.

The Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault put out a news release Tuesday, saying it also wants the attorney general to get involved. For first-degree sexual assault of a child, there is no statute of limitations but in other assaults, depending on the crime, it must be reported before the victim turns 45, 35 or within six years.