Fr.Thomas Trepanier: Accused of Sexual Misconduct of a Minor

Fr.Thomas Trepanier


1975 – 1977: St. Agnes Parish, Butler
1978 – 1983: St. Robert Parish, Shorewood
1985 – 1988: St. John De Nepomuc Parish, Milwaukee
1993 – 1999: St. Sylvester Parish, South Milwaukee
2000 – 2002: St. Dominic Parish, Brookfield

Thomas Trepanier Documents  |  Thomas Trepanier Timeline

On December 2, 1998, an individual reported by telephone to the archdiocese about abuse by Trepanier in 1977, when the individual was about 15-years-old. The same individual met in person with the director of Project Benjamin (victim assistance coordinator) the following day to recount the abuse in more detail. It was reported as occurring from the time the individual was 15 to age 18. The individual reported four occurrences in detail. The same individual submitted a written account.

On December 8, 1998, Bishop Sklba (in the absence of the vicar for clergy) and Father Bill Kohler, associate vicar for clergy, met with Trepanier to inform him of the initial report that had been received. Trepanier was told not to have any unsupervised contact with minors and to enter into professional counseling.

On December 10, 1998 Bishop Sklba met with Father Bill Kohler to inform him of the additional, more detailed information that had been provided and asked Father Kohler to address these issues with Trepanier.

On December 15, 1998 Father Joe Hornacek, vicar for clergy, contacted Trepanier. In that conversation, Trepanier admitted to inappropriate behavior with the individual who had made the report and did not want to harm that person further. Trepanier also informed the vicar that he had sought professional help.

On December 16, 1998, Bishop Sklba met with the vicar and associate vicar to review that a monitor for Trepanier was in place and that a release for a report of the psychological assessment was being obtained. Trepanier continued to receive counseling.

On December 24, 1998 the vicar confirmed with Trepanier that an evaluation from the psychiatrist would need to be released, that he was to have no contact with the individual who made the report nor with that person’s family. Trepanier was also informed that if there were any other reports that surfaced he would be removed from the parish.

On January 15, 1999, the vicar met with Trepanier and advised him that the report from the psychiatrist was insufficient to assess his situation because it did not address the accusation of sexual misconduct. He advised Trepanier that some type of institutional assessment program might be required and that he was being placed in the monitoring program.

On January 18, 1999, Trepanier reported to the vicar that he wanted to be placed on sick leave while still being monitored. On January 19, 1999, Trepanier advised the vicar that he wanted only a short-term sick leave. The vicar advised him that he still needed to undergo an assessment program at either St. Luke’s Institute or Southdown. Trepanier indicated his reluctance to agree to this plan.

On February 12, 1999, Trepanier advised Archbishop Weakland that he would not participate in an intensive assessment.

On February 17, 1999, the vicar met with Trepanier to present him with a list of restrictions on his ministry, to formally place him on the monitoring program and to emphasize the importance of receiving an evaluation and assessment. The vicar advised that Trepanier address his concerns about the assessment process directly with Archbishop Weakland.

On March 25, 1999, Archbishop Weakland advised Trepanier that he could not be considered for any future parish ministry without an assessment.

On March 26, 1999 the vicar contacted Trepanier who reported he continues in treatment and continues to cooperate in the monitoring program.

On March 29, 1999, Trepanier reported to Archbishop Weakland that he denied what he was being accused of and challenges the dating of the reported incidents.

On April 10, 1999, Trepanier presented his objections to the report that had been given. He admitted to one inappropriate contact with the individual who made the report but said that it happened when the person was 17½, not 15 or 16 years old. Trepanier denied all other parts of the report.

On April 19, 1999, Archbishop Weakland wrote to Trepanier, advising him that his rebuttal to the report would be filed. He also reminded him that it was Trepanier’s own lack of cooperation that led to the delay in having any such formal response on file. Archbishop Weakland also pointed out that allowing Trepanier an extended period of psychological intervention before undergoing any formal investigation, being perceived by Trepanier as an injustice, was, in fact, a concession for his benefit.

On June 11, 1999, the vicar confirmed that Trepanier was going to participate in an assessment program but it would be done locally. An assessment was completed and a doctor’s report submitted on June 25, 1999, stated that Trepanier was not a current danger in anyway.

On July 1, 1999 Trepanier requested that his status be changed to “sick leave” and that change was made. Trepanier’s faculties and restrictions would remain in place and he was permitted to provide supplemental sacramental ministry as needed.

On March 9, 2000, Trepanier sent a letter to the vicar indicating that he met with Archbishop Weakland to discuss future assignment and that his plans for AIDS ministry did not materialize. Trepanier suggested he might move into some type of chaplaincy.

On June 22, 2000, the psychiatrist signs off on Trepanier’s therapy because of his progress.

On August 12, 2000, Trepanier agreed with the vicar that the hospital president at St. Joseph’s, where Trepanier might assume the chaplaincy, would be informed of his personal history and someone on staff would serve as an on-site monitor. This chaplaincy position did not materialize.

In August, 2000, Trepanier served as substitute hospital chaplain at St. Mary Hospital.

On October 19, 2000, Archbishop Weakland appointed Trepanier as associate pastor of St. Dominic Parish in Brookfield, effective November 28, 2000.

In February, 2001, the vicar wrote to Trepanier at Trepanier’s request to summarize his history and status. The vicar indicated that Trepanier’s appointment to the parish was only made after the pastor, parish council chair and parish trustees were informed of his history and restrictions and agreed to serve as on-site monitors. Trepanier would continue in the monitoring program.

In January, 2002, Trepanier wrote a letter to the parish council, pastoral staff and parishioners informing them of his request to seek reassignment in June, due to the 40 mile per day trip and demands of a large suburban parish.

On April 3, 2002, the Vicar sent a letter to Trepanier informing him of the Special Eisenberg Commission that would be reviewing all diocesan policies concerning the archdiocese’s response to sexual abuse cases and that their review would include Trepanier’s case.

On May 1, 2002, Trepanier wrote a letter to Archbishop Weakland resigning from active ministry and apologizing for his role in embarrassing the Church. On May 8, 2002 Archbishop Weakland wrote a letter to Trepanier accepting his resignation and provided him with a severance check.

In August, 2004, through the Independent Mediation System the person who made the original report about Trepanier reached a settlement with the archdiocese.

In September, 2004, Archbishop Dolan submitted Trepanier’s case to Cardinal Ratzinger for review by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, requesting that the archdiocese be authorized to conduct a penal trial to determine the facts that Trepanier  disputes and what, if any, penal remedy should be assessed.

In October, 2005, the CDF authorized Archbishop Dolan to conduct an administrative penal process. In November, 2005, Archbishop Dolan wrote to Trepanier informing him a penal process was authorized and asking if he would prefer to request voluntary laicization. In December, 2005, Archbishop Dolan was informed that Trepanier did not wish to return to the lay state. Archbishop Dolan conducted an administrative penal process against Trepanier, which was concluded with a letter in May, 2005, to the CDF stating the request that Trepanier be dismissed from the clerical state.  After receiving a proposal from the CDF that Trepanier not be dismissed due to the dispute about the age of the victim and hence whether or not a delict had been committed, in January, 2008, Archbishop Dolan wrote to the CDF indicating that he had pondered their suggestion imposing a 10-year but that such a resolution was not tenable. Archbishop Dolan wrote again in March, 2009, asking the CDF to issue a decree of dismissal or allow a long-term restriction. In April, 2009, the CDF advised Archbishop Dolan that Trepanier could be prohibited from ministry for an indeterminate period of time.

Pastoral Assignment Gathered From The Archdiocese of Milwaukee