Whistleblowers are prodding the state to take more action in investigating clergy sex abuse.
Earlier today, a coalition of survivors and those working to end clergy abuse delivered boxes of documents to the office of Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul.
The document dump was organized by Nate’s Mission, an initiative of Ending Clergy Abuse, which works across five continents and 29 countries to reform institutions shown to have widespread sexual abuse and cover-ups.
The boxes held documents that came from a network of whistleblowers across Wisconsin that purportedly demonstrate cover-ups related to clergy abuse. And they could help an ongoing statewide inquiry into clergy and faith leader abuse, announced by Attorney General Kaul in April 2021.
In November, Kaul announced an expansion of the investigation to include instances of abuse at residential schools, which were used to forcibly assimilate Indigenous people. That came amid a wave of national and even international reckoning with the history of Indian boarding schools.
As of October, the Department of Justice had received about 180 reports of clergy abuse or how an institution handled a claim of abuse. Since the investigation started, two cases have been referred for further investigation in Brown County, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Nate’s Mission alleges that the evidence delivered today will show that the number of reports is too small. They say the documents will also show that the Green Bay Diocese destroyed evidence of abuse and committed charitable fraud.
The alleged destruction of those documents occurred one week after a 2007 Wisconsin Supreme Court decision that allowed victims to file suit against the Church for fraud. Today’s new evidence could help the Department of Justice’s investigation.
“We have new information in these documents right here that demonstrates in deep embedding of this abusive crisis into the culture of the organization and of the communities and powerful people that have upheld that kind of culture. This investigation would be an utter failure if it fails to address that institutional nature,” says Sarah Pearson, Deputy Director of Nate’s Mission.
The advocates say Senator Ron Johnson may also be implicated in the church’s actions as he served on the Green Bay diocese finance council at the time.
In November, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel also reported that Wisconsin joins at least 22 other states that have begun abuse investigations into the Catholic Church.
Those who have knowledge or experience of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church are encouraged to call 1-877-222-2620 or visit supportsurvivors.widoj.gov.