MILWAUKEE — Thousands of documents released Monday detail allegations against 42 Milwaukee Archdiocese priests accused of sexually assaulting minors, including at least five who allegedly molested children in Racine County parishes.
In many instances, the priests have admitted to all or some of the charges, and several cases resulted in settlements with the church and received no media coverage at the time.
Former Milwaukee Archbishop Timothy Dolan made more than 40 names public in 2004, identifying each with substantiated allegations of sexually abusing one or more minors; documents released Monday as part of the regional archdiocese’s bankruptcy process detailed 42 of those cases. Five former Racine County parish leaders on the list allegedly abused minors while serving here.
A series of letters from then-Archbishop Dolan detail his efforts to de-frock Michael Benham, formerly an associate pastor at St. John Nepomuk Parish in Racine, who admittedly repeatedly sexually abused an 11-year-old there in the mid-1970s. The church stripped Benham of his title in 2009.
As was the case with many of the 42 priests, the documents detail Benham’s struggle with alcoholism. In several of those cases the alcohol abuse reportedly intersects with instances of same-sex child abuse, as with Jerome Lanser, formerly of Racine’s Sacred Heart Catholic Church, where a police report states he sexually abused an eight- or nine-year-old boy from 1975 to 1976.
Children at the Town of Paris' St. John the Baptist Parish, near the county line, reportedly feared former Pastor Eugene Kreuzer during his two-decade career there, which included multiple alleged abuses of teenage boys.
Daniel Budzynski, formerly of Caledonia’s St. Louis Catholic Church, references an “unfortunate incident” with a young boy during a church retreat, which Budzynski in a 2001 letter identified as “horsing around.” He transferred parishes shortly thereafter, and over the years allegedly abused multiple boys between age 7 and 16.
Budzynski’s multiple transitions from parish to parish correspond with charges against him, similar to many of the cases.
Dolan himself noted that pattern in a 2004 letter regarding former St. Joseph’s Parish associate pastor Raymond Adamsky, who is accused of inappropriately touching at least six underage girls between 1961 and 1983.
The dates given by accusers “match up not only with (Adamsky’s) place of assignment but also with transfers that are not explained in the files,” Dolan wrote in a letter to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.
A memo states that Adamsky was potentially involved in abusive relationships with minors as recently as 1991, and allegedly made girls at St. Joseph’s “uncomfortable” due to “rough physical contact,” according to a December 1991 memo that details a conversation with the parish school’s principal. Adamsky served as associate pastor at St. Joseph’s from 1986 until 1992, at which time he transferred to a chaplaincy at St. Monica’s Senior Citizen Home in Caledonia.
Oswald Krusing, who served from 1958-63 at Holy Name Parish, allegedly repeatedly molested young girls. His subsequent transfer away from Holy Name was one of 15 over the course of his career.
About 6,000 pages of documents illustrate the church’s response to these incidents and others within the Archdiocese.
Editor's note: The location of St. John the Baptist Parish was incorrectly identified in the original article. The parish is located in the Town of Paris, in Kenosha County. Therefore, the number of priests with substantiated sexual abuse allegations against them and who allegedly abused children in Racine County is actually five, rather than the number originally reported. The article has been updated to reflect these changes.