ST. FRANCIS — The name of the late Donald Musinski was recently added to the Milwaukee Archdiocese’s list of priests with substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of a minor.
A report originally filed with the archdiocese in 1997 was substantiated from new information obtained through claims filed in the Chapter 11 proceedings, and ongoing dialog with the victim-survivor who filed the original claim, according to an email from Jerry Topczewski, the archbishop’s chief of staff, dated Nov. 30.
“A report about Musinski was received by the archdiocese in 1997, but it was not able to be substantiated at that time for several reasons,” Topczewski wrote, noting that the archdiocese provided therapy for the victim/survivor and restrictions were set in place regarding Musinski’s contact with minors in 1998.
“First, Musinski denied it. Second, there were no previous allegations known to the archdiocese. Third, the reporter did not completely recall the details of what happened. Fourth, there was insufficient information available for an investigation to go forward,” he wrote.
The archdiocese asked for permission to treat every claim filed in the Chapter 11 proceeding as an intake report to investigate allegations against previously unnamed diocesan priests, Topczewski wrote. If a claim was made against a priest in active ministry, Topczewski said that priest was restricted from ministry until the archdiocese could determine whether the claim was substantiated.
“The priority for our limited resources has been to focus on investigations of any living diocesan priest before proceeding to those who are deceased. However, at the request of the claimant’s attorney, the archdiocese agreed to assign an investigator to the Musinski claim,” he noted about Musinski, who retired in 1999 for health reasons, was incapacitated for most of his retirement and died in 2006.
“In the case involving Musinski, the Chapter 11 process worked. New information was obtained through claims that had been filed. Because of that new information, along with ongoing dialog with the victim-survivor who filed the original claim in 1997, the allegations were able to be substantiated,” Topczewski wrote.
He said the bankruptcy court’s confidential seal on the claims in the bankruptcy proceeding limits the archdiocese’s ability to provide details of the claims or specifics about any allegation, providing abuse survivors confidence in making their reports.
“For now, we simply want to make you aware of this latest situation and ask for your continued prayers for all who have been impacted by clergy sexual abuse of minors.”
The independent Eisenburg Commission developed the procedures used to investigate allegations of clergy sexual abuse of a minor in 2002.
The archdiocese has posted the names of clergy restricted from ministry because of substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of a minor on its website, www.archmil.org, since 2004. The list is updated any time a death occurs, an individual’s status changes or allegations are substantiated, whether a priest is living or deceased.