11 Jan 2011

Wisconsin diocese follows child protection protocol after credible abuse allegations made, suspend priest and notify police

The Post-Crescent - Wisconsin October 31, 2010

The Rev. Paul J. Radetski, a Menasha priest, suspended in wake of child abuse allegation

MENASHA — A Menasha priest has been removed from active ministry and placed on administrative leave following an allegation that he abused a minor.

The Rev. Paul J. Radetski, 62, who serves as pastor of St. John's, St. Mary's and St. Patrick's parishes in Menasha, denies the allegation, according to the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay.

"The Diocese of Green Bay has received a credible allegation of abuse of a minor against Father Paul J. Radetski," said the statement, which was read at Saturday afternoon Masses at St. John's and St. Mary's by a staff priest from the diocese.

The statement said the alleged abuse occurred many years ago in another part of the diocese. It said a temporary administrator will be appointed shortly for the three Menasha parishes. The statement did not give details of the abuse.

Radetski previously served at parishes in Green Bay, Peshtigo, Little Chute and Phlox (a rural locality in Langlade County), according to online records.

Menasha police said they have no record of any allegations against Radetski.

Online court records show no criminal filings against Radetski.

"Civil authorities have been notified of the alleged abuse. The diocese remains committed to the protection of children and vulnerable adults," the statement said.

"It is a sad day for the church when a credible accusation of abuse is brought forward against a priest or an employee in our diocese," Bishop David Ricken said in a separate statement.

"As a diocese, we commit ourselves to reaching out to the victim as well as the community. Misconduct of this sort is always complex as well as terribly harmful. Each instance of abuse is unique, so special care must be taken to seek knowledge of the truth to meet the needs of each individual."

Ricken asked parishioners to join him in prayer for the alleged victim, Radetski and the three Menasha parishes.

"We met Friday morning with parish staffs and also met with parish trustees," Ray DuBois, a deacon and diocese director of communications, said late Saturday. "In the days coming, the parishes will make a determination of what their needs are moving forward and we as a diocese will certainly help them in any way we can."

DuBois said the procedure the diocese has had in place since 2002 worked. "When we received a credible allegation it was turned over to law enforcement within 24 hours and they are the ones that determine what the next steps are."

DuBois added that the best thing the diocese can do at this point is offer support. "It's important for us to stay out of the way of law enforcement and let them do what they do."

The diocese, which includes more than 300,000 Catholics in 16 northeastern Wisconsin counties, said its policies for keeping children safe are and will remain rigorous. Those include:
  • Mandatory reporting of all credible allegations of abuse to local law enforcement authorities to insure that due process within the legal system takes place.
  • When a credible allegation of the sexual abuse of a minor is made against a priest or deacon he is placed on administrative leave and temporarily removed from public ministry pending the outcome of the process according to Canon Law.
  • Permanent barring from ministry any clergy who have a substantiated, credible allegation of abuse of a minor against them.
  • Mandated background checks and abuse prevention training of all staff and volunteers in parishes, schools and diocesan offices.
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