Wednesday, October 5, 2005

Cause for Concern

This story, tragic as it is, involves a young priest ordained only a few years. It calls into question everything about the screening of candidates for the priesthood that we are all told is much better now than it was...

From Ironwood Daily Globe, Ironwood, Michigan, USA News:

According to an account of Monday's testimony in the St. Paul Pioneer Press:

Erickson professed a love of God, but he was described by witnesses as a man who downloaded hardcore pornography, much of it involving boys. Authorities said one computer file labeled 'Holy Mass/Prayers' included 40 pornographic photos.
Investigators said that when Erickson was 6 years old, he had sexual contact with a 4-year-old male cousin. At the age of 19, they said, he had sexual contact with a 14-year-old boy, and at 21 he was investigated for allegedly sexually assaulting a boy at a summer resort.
On Monday, an alleged victim of Erickson testified that as a teenager he met Erickson at a parish in Somerset, Wis., where Erickson had a weekend assignment while still in the seminary. From 2000 to 2002, the young man testified, he spent many weekends at the rectory with Erickson watching horror movies and playing drinking games. He said Erickson supplied cans of beer and shots of liquor.
Once the boy was drunk, Erickson would molest him, according to the testimony.
Another victim, a teenage boy, testified that more recently Erickson engaged in drinking binges during sleepovers at St. Patrick's rectory.
St. Croix County District Attorney Eric Johnson said Monday that Dan O'Connell apparently had confronted Erickson about allegations of sexual abuse of a boy and that provided the motive for his murder. "

And this from The Star Tribune:

According to a biography of Erickson's life, contained in the Hudson police case, the Catholic Diocese in Superior, Wis., had examined sexual allegations against Erickson in the mid-1990s, when he was still a seminary student. He was ordained in June 2000.

Much of the material concerning those allegations listed in the biography came from Erickson's personnel files from the Superior Diocese.

The biography cites a "letter to Erickson of a sexual misconduct allegation" written in 1994 by the Rev. Timothy Reker.

The district attorney in Wisconsin's Vilas County followed up with a letter on July 13, 1994. The letter said "that there will be no charges of sexual assault against Erickson," the police summary said.

The biography also said that the St. Paul Seminary questioned a Father Gordon with the Diocese of Superior in 1996 regarding sexual allegations against Erickson.

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