Sunday, February 11, 2007

Widera: Was it "Dr." Leo Graham, or Abp. Cousins?

A California court ruled that the Archdiocese of Milwaukee should release its personnel records on one of Milwaukee's most notorious child-abusing priests, Fr. Sigfried Widera. But there's more to the story than just Bishops and other priests.

The JSOnline's story reports as follows:

From Siegfried Widera's earliest days as a Roman Catholic priest in the Milwaukee Archdiocese, church officials and others acting on the church's behalf knew he was sexually abusing young boys and continually placed his well-being above that of parishioners' in various dioceses, according to newly released court documents.

The documents describe a man for whom molesting boys was like breathing air or eating food, yet who was sent to California by an archbishop who said he was "no great risk" doing pastoral work and was dealing merely with "legal complications" as a result of a "moral problem."

...Just six years after his ordination, Widera was arrested in Port Washington for having sexual contact with an 11-year-old boy. He admitted to the crime and to similar conduct with several other boys but was charged with only one count of what was known as sexual perversion. He avoided jail; he was placed on three years' probation and ordered to stay out of Ozaukee County.

But here, 3/4ths of the way through the story, we find a non-Bishop/non-priest who was a very influential and significant actor in the story:

After his arrest, Widera began seeing Leo Graham, a church-employed therapist, who was in frequent contact with archdiocesan officials, the records say.

Graham played an integral role in finding a new church assignment for his patient. Widera's placement had to be considered carefully, he said.

On June 29, 1976, archdiocesan officials learned of new abuse accusations from an Elkhorn therapist who was treating a boy. After a church official assured the therapist that Widera would receive inpatient treatment, the therapist persuaded the victim's mother not to go to the police.

A July 7, 1976, entry in a vicar's log kept by the archdiocese says, however: "
Leo (Graham) doubts value of inpatient treatment."

It also notes that "Graham feels that 'one slip' in 3 years is not too bad a track record."

Really, Leo?

Archdiocesan officials set in motion a plan to get Widera out of Wisconsin. Initially, he would go "on vacation" to California. But Milwaukee Archbishop William Cousins said Widera should prepare for reassignment.

Graham was upset that Widera was about to be moved without his input. He said Widera should remain in Delavan - he still was on probation - and Graham said he would see the abused child in what the vicar's log called "a one-shot evaluation of the boy to determine if there is any traumatic damages (usually in these cases, there is not)."

We don't doubt that the Archdiocese was wrong.

But I'd like to know exactly how "Dr." Graham retained so much influence with the Archdiocese.

Dr. Graham seems to have a history: (Terry Berres' history at this link is very useful, but not enjoyable.)

Graham surrendered his license to practice in Wisconsin in 1987 for having inappropriate sexual contact with patients.

That was not the only problem "Dr." Graham had. Although Widera was a serious offender, one who was even worse was Fr. Effinger, who molested his way through several assignments, too.

What was "Dr." Graham's opinion of Effinger?

Graham’s report concluded that he believed Father Effinger was “not a pedophile,” although he was concerned about his alcohol use.

Yeah, I guess that might have been a problem, too, "Dr." Graham.

It's a very sad story all around, filled with denials, utter stupidity, and broken boys. But it isn't just Archbishops and priests.


Unknown said...

The link to Grahams charges did not work. I am looking into Leo Graham to verify this. Would love to get evidence of his molestations on patients.

Dad29 said...

IIRC, Graham's dead now, but that's easy for you to check.

Another source could be Terry Berres who blogs here:

Best I can do to help, sorry.

Anonymous said...

Washington Post:

"Like Law in Boston, Weakland has relied on advice from doctors before reassigning sex offenders to priestly duties. In the unsealed deposition, he said he was advised by a psychologist, Leo Graham, that "the risks were minimal" in sending Effinger to a new parish in 1979. Graham gave up his license to practice in Wisconsin in 1987 after a complaint that he had "inappropriate contact" with a female patient, according to state records."

Anonymous said...

Leo F. Graham was deceased 1999. This fact e was also referenced in one of Archbishop Rembert Weakland depositions IIRC.

More on the circumstances surrounding the license of Leo Graham, see the
corrections section here.,5972535&hl=en

It could be transcribed and posted for the internet.

Anonymous said...

The 1983 payment of a $90,000 settlement to woman who was a former patient of Leo Graham reported as evidence in a legal malpractice lawsuit that was tried in 1990. The woman and Graham apparently had a long sexual relationship.,931050&hl=en