by Benjamin Yount
Wisconsin’s attorney general said his investigation into clergy sex abuse across the state has resulted in 1,000 calls to his tipline, 204 reports, and one criminal case. But there are some questions the AG is not answering.
Kaul launched his investigation into the Catholic Church in Wisconsin one year ago. On Tuesday, he provided an update on his progress.
“As of April 18, the Wisconsin Department of Justice Clergy and Faith Leader Initiative has received a total of 204 completed reports to the toll-free tip line and the online reporting tool accusing more than 150 individuals of abuse. Over 1,000 calls have been made to or from the tip line, including repeat calls from survivors who remember additional information or are looking for follow up information,” Kaul said in a statement.
Kaul said his office also received what he calls a “significant number of reports from those who had not previously reported to anyone.” But he is not saying just how many reports are included in that “significant number.”
Kaul is also not saying when, where, or who is involved in the complaints.
Kaul’s investigation has been under question since the beginning because of those missing answers.
The Archdiocese of Milwaukee last year refused to cooperate with Kaul’s investigation because the investigation focused solely on Catholitc church abuse cases, many of them dating back decades. And many of which were addressed in a 2015 settlement.
“It seems like the Church could be a model for others to follow and the Attorney General could be investigating ongoing crimes from today, not from decades past,” Archbishop Jerome Listecki wrote in an email last June.
Kaul’s Tuesday announcement makes no mention of whether the accused are alive or dead, and he didn’t say which churches are at the center of the complaints.
The only case where charges have been filed is from Waushara County, and dates back to 2009. A man, 33-year-old Remington Jon Nystrom, has been charged with one count of first-degree sexual contact with a child under 13. He was a counselor at a Mount Morris camp at the time. Prosecutors say he improperly touched a sleeping 10-year-old boy. Prosecutors filed those charges back in February. The case has yet to go to trial.
Kaul is not saying what the end-goal of his investigation is. Criminal cases could be hampered by Wisconsin’s law that sets the statue of limitation for victims to ask for charges. In criminal cases victims have to come forward by the time they are 45-years-old. Wisconsin law cuts off the opportunity to sue in a civil case at age 35.
Kaul said his sexual abuse tip line will remain open, and is asking other victims to come forward.
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Benjamin Yount is a contributor to The Center Square.