Diocese of La Crosse releases list of clergy with substantiated allegations of child sexual abuse

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LA CROSSE, Wis. (WEAU) -- 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