Milwaukee Archbishop Wants to Settle Lawsuits

By Jay Olstad

MILWAUKEE – Facing tough economic choices, the Archbishop of Milwaukee, Jerome Listecki wants to settle a dozen sex abuse lawsuits that may push the Diocese into bankruptcy.

“In our minds, the best way to do it is go to mediation and bring both sides together in hopes of coming to a successful resolution,” said Listecki.

The Archdiocese of Milwaukee will enter into mediation with several sexual abuse victims Monday in Chicago. The victims accuse the Diocese of moving pedophile priests from church to church without telling parishioners.

“It’s positive,” said Jeff Anderson who represents the abuse victims suing the church.

Anderson is hopeful about the mediation, but wants more than just money for his clients; he wants sealed documents about the abuse unsealed. Without that, he says there’s no deal.

“Actions speak louder than words. The simple announcement they’re willing to talk is simply words. We want action,” he said.

Archbishop Listecki claims he doesn’t know what documents Anderson is talking about.

“We’ll have to see what he means by that,” he said.

Listecki says the Diocese has already released a lot of documents on its website.

He wouldn’t say what would happen to the Diocese if the mediation doesn’t work, but bankruptcy is possible.

Either way, sexual assault victims say these lawsuits aren’t about the money.

“We want to know the truth about what happened to us. That’s why the release of documents is so important,” said John Pilmaier, Wisconsin Co-Director of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests or SNAP.