As has been reported earlier, Ron Jonson has served for many years as both a member of the Green Bay Finance Council, which has the ultimate authority under Canon law to deal with and settle sexual abuse law suits, and the Oshkosh Catholic Schools Board, which also has fielded its fair share of sex abuse lawsuits.
Both of these positions of responsability also carry with them an implied public trust that, among other things, if they were made aware of a child sexual predator in their midst, they wouldn't allow the sexual child predator to escape justice, remain on the streets, and put thousands more children at risk.
Back in 2002, the Appleton Post-Crescent's Steve Wideman did a great article documenting the tip of the iceberg of Green Bay Diocese's sex abuse scandal. I say the tip of the iceberg, because most allegations / lawsuits of this nature are quietly settled out of court-- only a few make their way into the public eye.
A troubling aspect of this article is just how many of these sexual assaults occured in Oshkosh or in the Oshkosh Unified Catholic School System, and how many were thrown out on grounds that the statute of limitations had expired.
What's also shocking is that of the umpteen predator priests discussed, only one was ever put behind bars! Besides the public interest in punishing these creeps, the larger concern is that parents were never warned and, again, put thousands of additional children unnecessarily at risk.
Many of these predator priests are still on the street, today.
Take the case of Stocker and Thompson, two pedophile priests that worked as a team to plague the Oshkosh area. Thompson used his position at Lourdes Catholic High School in Oshkosh, to recruit and prey on boys:
The Rev. Thomas Ronald Stocker was one of two priests named in a 1994 civil suit filed in Brown County by four alleged victims, all males, who claimed that as teen-agers they were sexually assaulted by Stocker on some occasions while another priest allegedly watched and encouraged the abuse.
Stocker could not be reached for comment.
Stocker served as assistant pastor at Green Bay St. Joseph's and De Pere St. Boniface Parish in 1963 before being appointed to pursue Canon Law studies at the Catholic University of America (Washington, D.C.) in 1969.
He served as pastor at St. Mary's Parish in Greenleaf from 1978 to 1988 before being assigned to St. James Parish in Cooperstown in 1989 where he remained until being placed on special assignment in 1994 as a reserve priest at St. Agnes Parish in Green Bay. Stocker was placed on leave by the diocese in 1995.
The alleged incidents occurred between 1963 and 1967. According to court records, the alleged assaults occurred at an outdoor movie theater in Green Bay, an Oshkosh motel, a Chicago home and in the priest's car. In a deposition included in the civil case, Stocker acknowledged having sexual contact with at least some of the victims.
The civil case was dismissed on statute of limitation grounds.
The Rev. Robert Bruce Thompson was the other priest named in the 1994 civil suit filed in Brown County by four alleged victims, all males, who claimed that as teen-agers they were sexually assaulted by another priest while Thompson watched and encouraged the abuse and failed to report the abuse to diocese officials.
One of the alleged victims said Thompson sexually assaulted him. Thompson denied all the allegations, claiming one of the victims made advances on him.
The case was dismissed on statute of limitations grounds, according to information contained in a state District III court of appeals document from 1997.
Thompson served as assistant pastor at St. Francis Xavier Cathedral in Green Bay beginning in 1965. He was appointed as a religion instructor at Oshkosh Lourdes High School in 1967 and became director of the former Newman Center in Oshkosh and coordinator of campus ministries at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in 1969.
He was appointed full-time chaplain at the Winnebago County Mental Health Institute in 1978. Thompson assumed duties outside the Green Bay Diocese in 1984 moving to Arizona to Tucson's St. Joseph Hospital. In 1987, Thompson moved to the Spohn Hospital in Corpus Christi, Texas.
Thompson was placed on administrative leave by the Green Bay Diocese in 1995. He died in 1999.
Then there is the disgusting case of Eugene Schmidt, that also took place in Johnson's backyard. Schmidt wasn't employed by the Oshkosh Catholic schools, but he is another case of how auxillory bishop Robert Morneau reassigned instead arresting a pedophile. Remember, Morneau is the guy that Johnson served under as a member of the Green Bay Diocese's Finance Council and represented before the Wisconsin Senate:
The Rev. Eugene LeRoy Schmidt, now 73, was the subject of a 1992 civil suit filed in Winnebago County by a woman who alleged she was assaulted on numerous occasions while Schmidt was pastor at St. Mary's Parish in Winneconne.
Schmidt retired in 1991. The case eventually was dismissed based on statutes of limitations.
The victim alleged in court records that Schmidt sexually assaulted her from 1968 through 1972, when she was 13 to 17 years old.
The incidents include allegations Schmidt took pornographic pictures of her, had a dog urinate on her, took her to strip clubs in Green Bay and Milwaukee, forced her to drink from a dog bowl telling her she was "less than a dog," assaulted her with a broomstick and eventually asked her to marry him.
Court records indicate neighbors of the church at the time of the alleged assaults notified the diocese about a young girl spending too much time at the rectory. The victim said Schmidt showed her the letters, which she took as a warning to "be more careful."
Schmidt was in ill health and unavailable for comment Thursday, a woman who identified herself as his sister told the Post Crescent.
According to court records, the victim wrote a letter in 1982 to then-Green Bay Bishop Aloysius Wycislo outlining the alleged abuse. At the time, Schmidt was pastor at St. Vincent's Church in Oshkosh, a post he held until 1989.
In her letter to Wycislo, the victim said Schmidt "used his collar to gain people's trust and then misrepresented his church (and my faith)." The victim -- who was diagnosed with a multiple personality disorder stemming from stress of the alleged assaults, according to a court-appointed psychiatrist -- said she did not come forward sooner because she felt humiliated and felt a need to protect her family.
Court documents indicate that in January 1983 a rape counselor facilitated a meeting between the victim and Schmidt. In the meeting, Schmidt did not deny the allegations, but asked for forgiveness and said he was "doing good work and should be left to do it."
In a March 1983 letter addressed to Milwaukee Archbishop Rembert Weakland, the victim complained of a lack of response from the Green Bay diocese, writing, "I cannot escape the feeling that the bureaucracy of the church has placed its representatives above the laws of man."
Weakland also has been at the center of sexual abuse allegations. He was to make a public apology today for the pain caused by a $450,000 settlement the Milwaukee archdiocese made with a man who accused Weakland of sexual assault. The Vatican accepted Weakland's immediate resignation last week. Weakland, who reached the mandatory retirement age of 75 in April, denies assaulting anyone. dcIdc dc/Idc
A court file in the Schmidt case includes a Feb. 24, 1986, memo on diocese letterhead concerning a discussion about the victim between diocese officials, including Auxiliary Bishop Robert Morneau and the vicar of priests, the Rev. David Kiefer, a member of the current diocesan task force.
The memo mentions offers of arrangements for "care of claimant" and an offer of living expenses, if needed. A copy of the memo was forwarded to then-Bishop Adam Maida, who is now a Cardinal in the Detroit diocese. Maida replaced Wycislo as Green Bay's bishop in 1984.
Schmidt is not allowed to perform the functions of a priest, according to diocesan spokesman Tony Kuick.
Here's the kicker: The Saint Mary Margaret parish in Neenah that Johnson's family and the extended Curler family has long attended also housed one these pedophile priests, who, of course, never was brought to justice:
Oshkosh police records indicate a former Fox Valley priest was transferred to parishes in Neenah and Oshkosh in the latter half of the 1980s after facing allegations of sexual assault involving two young boys at Appleton's Sacred Heart Church.
The priest, identified in a 1992 Oshkosh police report as the Rev. Ronald H. Schneider, became the subject of an investigation based on an anonymous citizen complaint filed in 1992.
According to the police report, Schneider served as an associate pastor at Sacred Heart in Appleton for nine years beginning in 1975, before being transferred in 1985 -- during the term of Bishop Maida -- to Neenah's St. Margaret Mary parish, where he served as associate pastor until 1988.
Police records indicate that at least two "incidents" involving underage boys allegedly occurred at Sacred Heart, based on complaints filed with the diocese by parents.
The complaints were acknowledged by Kiefer, then the diocesan vicar of priests, during a 1992 interview with Oshkosh police.
Kiefer told police that Schneider's problem involved voyeurism and allegations that he asked two children to take their clothes off in front of him.
Kiefer acknowledged Schneider was transferred to Neenah but said the diocese forgot to inform the church of the Sacred Heart allegations for nearly two years. During that time, according to the police report, Schneider worked with the Neenah church's Boy Scouts program, assisted in teaching duties and trained altar boys.
Kiefer told police in a Nov. 6, 1992, interview that Schneider "slipped through the cracks." He said St. Margaret Mary pastor, the Rev. Msgr. Eugene Hotchkiss, eventually was notified that Schneider was undergoing counseling and should not be teaching in schools.
The police reports, referring to information provided by Kiefer, stated that "somehow, somebody had forgotten to notify St. Margaret Mary's Church that he (Schneider) was getting psychological counseling and that he had a sexuality problem with young boys."
As part of Schneider's counseling, he was not to have anything to do with children, Kiefer told police.
Kiefer told police that Schneider was transferred to Oshkosh's Sacred Heart Church in 1989, accompanied with a written warning from diocese officials.
Sacred Heart pastor Rev. Theodore Hendricks told police during a Nov. 11, 1992, interview that there was a note "along with his transfer from the Green Bay diocese that Father Ron was not to be associated with children, he should be kept away from children's groups and unsupervised groups."
As I said before, this is just the very, very limited public record and just the tip of the iceberg. The Green Bay Diocese and Oshkosh Catholic Schools hundreds more records that they have kept secret-- these are the records that the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) want released.
Why? Because there is the very valid concern that many of these sexual predators are still on the street-- a point very much strengthened by the fact that ones in the public record are still on the street.