Diocese of La Crosse releases list of clergy with substantiated allegations of child sexual abuseSubmitted: 01/20/2020
Diocese of La Crosse releases list of clergy with substantiated allegations of child sexual abuse
Story By WEAU

LA CROSSE - The Diocese of La Crosse has released the names of 25 clergy men with substantiated allegations of child sexual abuse made against them.

At least 16 of the men on the list face multiple allegations of child sex abuse.

Of the 25 men on the list, 18 have died. All of the men have been taken out of public ministry.

The list did not specify when or where the alleged abuse took place.

Eight of the men on the list have worked in Eau Claire including Bruce Ball (Immaculate Conception-Regis High School), Thomas Dempsey (Sacred Heart of Jesus-Sacred Heart Hospital), James Ennis (Sacred Heart of Jesus), James Finucan (St. James the Greater), James E. Mason (Immaculate Conception-Regis High School, Newman Center-Regis High School), James Stauber (St. Patrick Jr. High School-Regis High School), Raymond J. Wagner (St. Patrick) and Daniel Budzynski (Newman Parish).

Seven of the men have worked in Chippewa Falls including Eugene Comiskey (Holy Ghost), Thomas Dempsey (Northern Colony and Training School), Richard Herrmann (St. Charles Borromeo-McDonnel High School), William Hertzenberg (Notre Dame), James E. Mason (McDonnel High School), Albert Sonnberger (Notre Dame, St. Charles Borromeo) and Francis Zimmerer (St. Joseph's Hospital).

The list is being published after an audit of all clergy files dating back to 1868.

The release coincides with a pastoral letter from Bishop William Patrick Callahan, which will be read at all masses throughout the weekend.

The Diocese of La Crosse serves nearly 200,000 Catholics in 19 counties including Chippewa, Dunn, Eau Claire, La Crosse and other surrounding areas.

NEWS RELEASE: The following clergy on this list have had a substantiated allegation of child sexual abuse. None are in public ministry.

An allegation is deemed to be substantiated if it has been sufficiently confirmed so as to believe that abuse occurred. This determination follows a process of consultation and is not a legal judgment.

The fact that a specific parish is on the list does not mean that an act of abuse occurred at said parish. It's only significance is that a priest on our list once served at that parish.

Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this list. Questions about this list should be in writing and directed to the Office of Safe Environment, Diocese of La Crosse, P.O. Box 4004, La Crosse, WI 54602-4004.

The names on this list are divided into three categories:

(1) Diocesan clergy
(2) Non-Diocesan clergy with a substantiated allegation in the Diocese of La Crosse
(3) Non-Diocesan clergy who spent time in the Diocese of La Crosse and whose name appears on a list in another diocese or religious order

(1) Diocesan clergy: a priest or deacon incardinated in the Diocese of La Crosse, against whom a complaint was filed and found to be substantiated, relating to conduct occurring in the Diocese of La Crosse or while the cleric was incardinated in the Diocese of La Crosse.

Bruce Ball

Raymond Bornbach

Eugene Comiskey

Thomas Dempsey

James Ennis

James Finucan

John Thomas Finucan

Tom Garthwaite

Richard Herrmann

William Hertzenberg

Thomas Langer

James E. Mason

Garland Muller

Charles Rasmussen

Albert Sonnberger

James Stauber

Patrick Umberger

Raymond J. Wagner

(2) Non-Diocesan clergy with a substantiated allegation in the Diocese of La Crosse: a priest or deacon who is either from a religious order or from a diocese other than the Diocese of La Crosse, against whom an allegation was filed and found to be substantiated, while the individual was serving in the Diocese of La Crosse. For these names, not all otherwise reported information may be accessible to the Diocese of La Crosse, e.g., date of ordination or assignment history. All information available to the Diocese of La Crosse has been reported.

Timothy Svea

Bogdan Werra

(3) Non-Diocesan clergy who spent time in the Diocese of La Crosse and whose name appears on a list in another diocese or religious order: a priest or deacon who is either from a religious order or from a diocese other than the Diocese of La Crosse, against whom an allegation was filed and found to be substantiated by another diocese or religious order. The Diocese of La Crosse would have no specific information relating to the allegation.

Dennis Bouche

Daniel Budzynski

Orville Munie

Joseph Smetana

Francis Zimmerer

Get the latest updates from weau.com delivered to your browser

Text Size: + Increase | Decrease -
| Print Story | Email Story
Sponsored in part by HodagSports.com


Play Video

TOMAHAWK - The Tomahawk Fall ride concluded Sunday. The three day motorcycle festival had less attendance than in previous years due to COVI-19, but it did not stop local businesses from enjoying the visitors from all over the country.

Local and small businesses were out in full force trying to make profits for the season with Fall ride concluding the festival season. The town of Tomahawk had less attendees than last year but the hotels had no problem filling their rooms. The owner of the Four Seasons Motel, Andy Wadia, said September is their busiest time of year.

"So many people came from Chicago, Minnesota, Iowa, some from California so it's good," said Wadia. "Good for the business good for the town, you know local business is good for local business you know." 

Not only were there visitors from all over the country but business vendors like Eli Villarreal, Owner of Marie's Famous Headbands drove all the way from Corpus Christi, Texas to keep his business alive through the pandemic.

"We didn't hit our numbers like we did last year," said Villarreal. "This year we're probably like 40 percent down, but like I said with everything being cancelled across the US we'll take it right now. I mean we need it, that's our bread and butter." 

Tomahawk businesses love when fall ride comes for the three day weekend as it is the last push for businesses to make their final profits before the off season takes over and the influx of tourism grinds to a halt.

+ Read More

Play Video

FLORENCE - We have updates from Florence, Onconto, and Shawano Counties on the identification of the invasive Emerald Ash Borer species which attacks and kills all true ash species. They have been found in 57 of the 72 counties in Wisconsin.

Public Lands Forester, of Florence County, Tyler Wood explained how the Emerald Ash Borer likes to travel on firewood, to reduce the spread to other places, burn the wood in the same place you bought or gathered it.

"The Emerald Ash Borer can fly easily about a half a mile, and up to maybe 5 miles away from a host tree to find another tree in order to infect that tree," said Wood.

Though there won't be a significant impact on the environment in Florence county, not knowing if your tree is infected could lead to safety concerns around your property or for people with streets lined with the trees, dangerous roadways could occur during storms.

Forest Health Specialist, Linda Williams, spoke about how the future extinction would affect more than just the forest. The MLB uses ash trees to make their baseball bats, as well as the local Native American tribes whos culture traditions create baskets from ash.

"The Emerald Ash Borer will kill the Ash Trees. And we've seen that happening in southern Wisconsin as well as other states that have had it for much longer than us. Other species of trees tend to come into those sites sometimes they are desirable species and some are not," said Williams..

If you are a concerned ash tree owner some signs that your tree has been infested is the outer bark removed by woodpeckers, and D-shaped holes where the insects have emerged.

For people with 10 plus acres you can file a request with the DNR to have a walk through to understand how to manage the Emerald Ash Borer at mywisconsinwoods.org.

+ Read More

MADISON, WIS. (WMTV) -  New confirmed coronavirus cases remain near record levels in Wisconsin with the Department of Health Services recording 2,283 new cases Saturday.

More than 2,000 new cases were reported in Wisconsin for the first time ever Thursday. Shortly after, a state-wide record of 2,533 new positive COVID-19 cases were recorded on Friday.

The DHS recorded 18.3 percent of tests were returned positive Saturday, while the percent positive 7-day average was recorded at 16.4 percent.

With the newest cases included, the total number of people who have tested positive for COVID-19 in Wisconsin has reached 99,562. The agency reports 13,671 of those cases are still active.

+ Read More

Wisconsin health officials reported 2,533 confirmed COVID-19 cases statewide Friday, a new daily record. The old record was 2,034, set on Thursday.

The state has now seen 97,279 confirmed cases since the pandemic began in March.

+ Read More

MOSINEE - President Donald Trump stepped up his rhetoric on cultural issues, aiming to boost enthusiasm among rural Wisconsin voters as he tries to repeat his path to victory four years ago.

Making his fifth visit to the pivotal battleground state this year, Trump views success in the state's less-populated counties as critical to another term. He held a rally Thursday evening in Mosinee, in central Wisconsin, an area of the state that shifted dramatically toward Republicans in 2016, enabling Trump to overcome even greater deficits in urban and suburban parts of the state.

+ Read More

MADISON - The state Department of Workforce Development's top leader resigned Friday after failing to find a way to address a massive backlog of unprocessed unemployment benefit claims sparked by the coronavirus pandemic.

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers' office said Caleb Frostman stepped down after the governor called for his resignation. Republicans have peppered Evers with criticism for months over the department's inability to process tens of thousands of benefit claims that have been flowing in since the coronavirus took hold in the U.S. in March.

+ Read More

Play Video

- A lot is happening underwater while Wisconsin is transitioning from summer, to fall, and winter.

But we don't really see those changes. Though we might be getting out of the water, fish can still thrive in the colder temperatures.

DNR Fisheries Supervisor John Kubisiak explains exactly how.

"These fish have been around for millions of years so they've had a long time to deal with these annual temperature cycles of course," Kubisiak said.

In the fall, a lake's temperature gets closer and closer to freezing.

Fish are cold-blooded. Meaning, their environment's temperature controls their body temperature. Kubisiak said the reason why the lake temperature is such a big issue is because that drives their metabolic processes.

How exactly do the fish prepare for the cold weather?

+ Read More
+ More General News