All Catholic Bishops Across U.S. Named in Lawsuit Filed by Wisconsin Family

The Saginaw News | MADISON, Wis. — Bishop Robert J. Carlson, head of the Saginaw Catholic Diocese, is one of 178 bishops fighting a lawsuit the family of a Wisconsin man has filed.

Relatives of Dan O’Connell of Hudson wants Carlson and the other bishops to reveal the names of about “5,000 proven, admitted and credibly accused abusive priests in the U.S.,” said attorney Jeff Anderson of St. Paul, Minn.

The O’Connells aren’t seek monetary damages.

“The suit names every bishop in the United States,” said Carlson, 62, leader of the 130,000 Catholics in the Saginaw Diocese. “We have no connection with that case. However, we turned it over to our attorney. Since it’s an active lawsuit, I can’t comment on it.”

O’Connell, who was a funeral home director in Hudson, which is about 20 miles east of St. Paul, investigated claims that the Rev. Ryan Erickson of the Diocese of Superior, Wis., had molested children, Anderson said. A further probe revealed that church officials knew of Erickson’s behavior and ordained him anyway, he said.

In February 2002, Erickson walked into the funeral home and shot O’Connell, 37, in the head, killing him, Anderson said. O’Connell’s co-worker, James Ellison, 22, walked in, and Erickson fatally shot him, he said.

Two years later, police suspected that Erickson committed the slayings, Anderson said. After detectives questioned Erickson about the deaths, he hanged himself inside his parish in December 2004, Anderson said.

“We want to get the church to not let the sins of the past repeat in the future,” the attorney said. “We want them to come clean with the names so that other children are not at risk. They have the names and addresses of the offenders.”


Darryl Q. Tucker covers courts for The Saginaw News.
You may reach him at 776-9686.