Family of Priest-Abuse Victim Reacts to Supreme Court Ruling

The state Supreme Court refused to hear the civil case against defrocked priest Donald Buzanowski.

By Emily Matesic

He is serving a 32-year prison sentence following his conviction for fondling David Schauer in 1988 when Schauer was only ten years old and a student at Ss. Peter & Paul Catholic School in Green Bay.

Following that conviction, Schauer filed a civil suit against the Green Bay Catholic Diocese accusing it of failing to protect children from the former priest.

A jury rejected the claims, saying the statute of limitations had run out. The case was then appealed to the state Supreme Court, and Tuesday Schauer and his family learned the state’s high court refused to hear the case.

It’s been more than 20 years since a priest molested Schauer. For the past five years the Schauers have been trying to seek justice — which, following the Supreme Court’s ruling, they’re still looking for today.

Schauer lives in Arizona now. He tells us learning the Wisconsin Supreme Court won’t hear his case against the Green Bay diocese is disappointing.

“I certainly knew that it would be, the odds were still against me in the Supreme Court hearing the case, but I still firmly believe that it’s something they should have done and that justice wasn’t served,” Schauer said.

Schauer’s mother agrees. Judith Schauer says she can forgive Buzanowski but she can’t forgive the diocese that she believes allowed her son to be attacked and a diocese she not only holds responsible for what happened to her son but for affecting the court’s decision.

“I still ache because my church did nothing to help this family,” she said. “I feel there’s probably a lot more information in there that’s secret, because there’s no reason that this civil suit shouldn’t be allowed to go forward and David’s story being able to be told.”

The court’s decision to not hear the case against the diocese is the end of the legal road for the Schauers, but it’s also the beginning of David Schauer’s continuous fight to keep children safe in the future.

“My goal is to help prevent this from happening to somebody else, and that’s really what kind of enables me to continue,” he said.

Judith Schauer told us she’ll work towards the passage of the Child Victims Act, a law that would eliminate the statute of limitations in child sex abuse cases.