Fr. Jerome Lanser: Accused of Sexual Misconduct of a Minor

Fr. Jerome Lanser


  • 1958 – 1964: St. Peter Parish, Beaver Dam
  • 1964 – 1969: St. Mary Parish, Menomonee Falls
  • 1969 – 1971: St. Margaret Mary Parish, Milwaukee
  • 1971 – 1976: St. Leo Parish, Milwaukee
  • 1976 – 1979: Sacred Heart Parish, Racine
  • 1979 – 1981: St. Mary Parish, Pewaukee
  • 1981 – 1989: St. Roman Parish, Milwaukee
  • 1989 – 1993: Franciscan Villa Nursing Home Chaplain, Milwaukee

In 1976, Lanser was sent to Hazelden for residential alcohol rehabilitation; alcoholism was presumed to be causing homosexual behavior.  In 1978, Lanser’s alcohol abuse and homosexual activity while he was the pastor at Sacred Heart Parish, Racine, was reported and he was sent to Albuquerque Villa, Servants of the Paraclete, for treatment. While in treatment he was asked to resign as pastor.

A 1979 letter from the priest administering Sacred Heart Parish while Lanser was in treatment, referred to a 1970 arrest of Lanser for sexual misconduct and made other references to homosexual activity with men and the perception of the rectory as a result. Upon recommendation of the therapist at Albuquerque Villa that Lanser was ready to be assigned to ministry, in December, 1979, Lanser was named a pro tem administrator to St. Mary Parish, Pewaukee. In February, 1980, the designation was changed to administrator.

In July, 1981, Lanser was sent back to Albuquerque Villa and removed from St. Mary Parish. In September, 1981, the therapist at Albuquerque Villa reported that Lanser was ready for an assignment and proposed a treatment plan that included use of Depo-Provera and return to Albuquerque Villa every six months. In September, 1981, Lanser was assigned as associate pastor at St. Roman Parish, Milwaukee. The pastor was advised of his past history.

In October, 1981, on the occasion of his brother’s funeral, Lanser was intoxicated. Albuquerque Villa therapists were consulted and they discovered that Lanser had not been showing up at his doctor for his injections and that he had also ceased using Anti-buse for control of his drinking. His local doctor was contacted to provide more oversight and to report any missed appointments. Lanser began weekly counseling.

In 1989 he was assigned as chaplain to Franciscan Villa, a senior living facility in south Milwaukee.

In 1992, an individual reported abuse by Lanser from 1964-69 when the individual was aged 8 to 13. A civil lawsuit was filed but dismissed in 1993 on Statute of Limitations.

In December 1992, the director of Franciscan Villa reported to the vicar for clergy, Father Venne, that Lanser was accused of making advances on an adult male at the senior facility. Later the same director reported that the man said there was no touching but that he was made to feel uncomfortable.

In January, 1993, Lanser was removed as chaplain and his ministry restricted. Any public exercise of ministry required explicit permission from the vicar for clergy each time. Lanser was given such permission on occasion in relation to family events.

In 1993, another individual reported sexual abuse by Lanser from the 1960’s when the individual was 15-years-old.

In 1995, a formal precept was issued restricting Lanser from the exercise of ministry.

In 2002, four reports of sexual abuse by Lanser were filed by individuals, two of whom remained anonymous. The reports stated that the abuse took place in the 1970’s when two of the individuals were in their teens and the other two did not specify an age. One of the reports indicated that the pastor had been informed and Bishop Brust notified, but there is no record of this report from 1973 or 1974.

In 2004, Lanser’s case was submitted to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith requesting authorization for some penal action.

In July, 2006, the CDF responded by stating that an ex officio dismissal would not be granted because Lanser, while admitting he had been sexually active, denied that any individual was a minor. The CDF gave authorization for an administrative penal process or, as an alternative if age and health were an issue, to require him to continue refraining from ministry and live a life of prayer and penance.

Having received a report from Lanser’s doctor that his health was deteriorating, Archbishop Dolan reiterated Lanser’s restrictions on ministry and ordered him to live a life of prayer and penance.

In August, 2010, the vicar general advised Lanser that he would no longer be eligible for any supplemental insurance provided by the archdiocese. Lanser’s canonical advisor took recourse to the Congregation for Clergy to have this decision reversed. In December, 2010, the Congregation requested a response to defend the cessation of coverage for Lanser (mistakenly called “Lester” in the correspondence).

In January, 2011, Archbishop Listecki presented his defense to the Congregation. In May, 2011, the Congregation issued a decree upholding the archbishop’s decision.

Lanser died on March 11, 2012. Lanser’s family asked permission to have him vested in the casket and, since he had not been dismissed from the clerical state, this permission was granted with the understanding that only his family would view the body before the Mass. This decision caused distress from survivors when it was learned that there was a very large extended family that came and it was seen as a public viewing.

Pastoral Assignment Gathered From The Archdiocese of Milwaukee