Press Conference: Archdiocese Sex Abuse Cover-up Started at Least 50 Years Ago, Documents in New Fraud Lawsuit Show

Any Victim Abused After 1956 Could File Claim According to Wisconsin Supreme Court Standard

Fraud lawsuit will be first by former student from St. John’s School for the Deaf

(Saint Paul, MN) – Victims of clergy sexual abuse from the archdiocese of Milwaukee, including a former student leader from St. John’s School of the Deaf who was sexually assaulted as a youngster by Fr. Lawrence Murphy,  will release never before seen secret documents in a new fraud lawsuit against the archdiocese, showing that the cover-up of child sex crimes started at least 50 years ago.

A new lawsuit is being filed Thursday with never-before-seen secret church documents showing that the archdiocese of Milwaukee knew at least 50 years ago that Fr. Lawrence Murphy was a pedophile priest. Instead of removing Murphy from the priesthood, he was appointed the director of St. John’s School for the Deaf where he preceded, according to a top-secret three-day archdiocesan evaluation of Murphy conducted by Kathy Lyn Walter in 1993, to rape and sexually assault an estimated 200 deaf youngsters over a 25 year period. That estimate is found in Walter’s 23-page final report to Archbishop Rembert Weakland.

Walter’s 1993 report and other previously released key documents in the Murphy file, including nearly 30 direct victim intakes taken by the archdiocese, can be accessed online at  Neither Walters or any official from the archdiocese was ever known to report Murphy to the police.  In 1974, when a student did report his abuse to the St. Francis police, where the school is located, the archdiocese did not confirm Murphy’s criminal history and he was never arrested and he went on to sexually molest other children.

While the archdiocese has maintained they only knew of Murphy’s criminal conduct against disabled children since 1974, documents released Thursday will show that the archbishops of Milwaukee were personally informed by victims since the mid-1950s. Murphy was transferred to Boulder Junction where, under the supervision of Archbishop Weakland, he continued to remain a risk and assault children until his death in 1998.  Weakland, in a 1998 confidential letter, writes that he had been “working with Rome” for several years “to keep all of this [Murphy’s crimes] quiet” so that Murphy’s “good name would be preserved.”

The new revelations could have a potentially groundbreaking impact on ongoing legal claims against the archdiocese.  According to a unanimous 2007 ruling by the Wisconsin Supreme Court, in a landmark church fraud decision, victims who were not aware that the archdiocese had concealed the crimes of their perpetrators, can file current claims.

Childhood clergy sexual abuse survivors who are members of the national self-help organization, SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

Thursday, August 13 at 1:30 PM

On the steps of
St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Cathedral
817 N. Jackson Street
Milwaukee, WI