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Federal Bankruptcy Judge Orders Depositions of Weakland and Sklba in clergy child molestation cases

August 12, 2011


Judge Kelley says testimony will focus on “who knew what when”

Both men likely to be asked about Vatican and current Pope’s involvement in notorious Murphy case

Statement by
Peter Isely, SNAP Midwest Director


Against the objections of a bevy of attorneys of the archdiocese of Milwaukee and in a major victory for survivors of clergy child sexual assault and their families, Judge Susan V. Kelly this morning ordered that both bishop Richard Sklba and Archbishop Rembert Weakland will be deposed under oath this October for testimony that will exclusively focus on what both bishops knew about the sexual abuse of children in the archdiocese of Milwaukee.

Weakland and Sklba together facilitated, oversaw, and allowed the rape and assault of countless children in the archdiocese of Milwaukee involving dozens of sex offender clergy for nearly 25 years.

How bad was the cover up?  When asked in a previous state court deposition, why he did not visit the parishes where pedophiles had served, Weakland scoffed at the idea because he would have needed to visit “virtually every parish in the archdiocese.”

The new deposition, for Weakland, however, will have him answering an entirely new set of questions never asked before. For the first time, he will have to provide details involving the Vatican and current Pope Benedict XVI’s knowledge and participation in the cover up of the notorious priest pedophile Fr. Lawrence Murphy.  Murphy, whose case exploded into an international story last year, assaulted at least 200 deaf children at St. John’s School for the Deaf.  According to previously secret church documents, it was Weakland, with Sklba, who brought the criminal evidence concerning Murphy to then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s Office in 1997.

But perhaps even more explosive than Weakland’s new testimony will be the testimony of his long-time chief lieutenant and most trusted confidant in the cover up, bishop Richard Sklba.  Weakland once referred to Sklba as his “go to guy” in handling the hundreds of child sexual abuse cases that were flooding the archdiocese.  Indeed, in a previously sealed deposition of Weakland concerning serial child molester, Fr. Peter Burns, Weakland testified that Sklba “made the decision” on returning abusers to ministry.

Sklba has been directly identified in the cover up of other now well documented serial offender priests besides Burns and Murphy, including:  George Nuedling, William Effinger, Dennis Pecore, Edmund Haen, Simon Palanthingal, Edwin Lesnewski, Frederick Bistricky, Franklyn  Becker, David Hanser, Norma Giannini, and Joseph Turner.

And if that is not enough, Sklba secretly authorized Weakland’s hush money settlement of nearly half a million dollars to a man who says Weakland sexually abused him as an adult.

Last month, almost laughably mimicking the bevy of attorneys he has hired—some 28 at last count–current Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki wrote that Sklba and Weakland’s depositions and testimony are “irrelevant.” Over all of their loud objections, Judge Kelley let it be known, emphatically, she does not agree.

Click on the following link for TV news coverage of this story:

[SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 23 years and have more than 10,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations. Our website is]

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