Bill Would Give Last Chance to Child Sex Abuse Victims

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Posted Wednesday October 21, 2009 -- 5:19pm
By Zac Schultz

Madison: In 1953, Arthur Budzinski started attending St. John's School For the Deaf near Milwaukee.

"He was molested while he was at that school. He feels like he's immoral now." With his daughter Gigi translating, Arthur testified at the Capitol about being molested. "They had to sleep in bunks, and they would be molested in the closets. Father Murphy molested him three times."

Father Lawrence Murphy is on the list of restricted priests due to substantiated reports of sexual abuse. The list came out in 2004, but Arthur was not able to file a civil suit against the church, because he was older than age 35 and had reached the statute of limitations for child sex abuse victims.

A bill at the Capitol would remove the age limit, and create a three year window for past victims to sue. "Some will claim this bill singles out the Catholic Church," says Rep. Joe Parisi (D-Madison). "Let me be clear. This bill singles out people who have raped children."

"Today, let me begin by publicly apologizing for this horror, this sin and this crime," says William Patrick Callahan, Auxiliary Bishop for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. He says by opening a three year window for lawsuits, the bill goes too far. "The cost of this legislation would be bourne through the loss of services to every parishioner of southeastern Wisconsin."

Father Murphy's crimes were first reported to authorities in 1973, but he was never charged. The church let him relocate to Boulder Junction in northern Wisconsin. He died in 1998 as the church was trying to de-frock him.

The church admits they screwed up, but say this bill won't promote justice. "This legislation would do nothing to help the victims of Father Murphy hold this perpetrator accountable. Even if he was still alive he couldn't criminally be prosecuted," says Jerry Topczewski, Chief of Staff for the Archdiocese.