Wisconsin Attorney General asks Diocese of La Crosse to turn over historical documents related to clergy abuse

Part of a new, state-wide probe into clergy and faith leader abuse

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT)- The Wisconsin Attorney General is launching a new probe into clergy and faith leader abuse.  A major part of this program is getting survivors help.

The Department of Justice is encouraging survivors and witnesses of abuse to report it, no matter when it happened, at SupportSurvivors.widoj.gov   or by calling 1-877-222-2620. Reports are confidential. 

The probe will include an independent review of sexual abuse committed by clergy and faith leaders in Wisconsin.  Attorney General Josh Kaul is asking survivors and witnesses of abuse and the concealment of abuse, to come forward.  They can report to a confidential hotline, or online reporting system. Survivors will also be offered confidential state provided support. 

The DOJ also asked Wisconsin’s catholic diocese, including the Diocese of La Crosse, and other religious orders, to turn over any abuse related internal documents. “Its my hope the diocese and religious orders will cooperate with this investigation and they do produce documents. There is already some info made available including a list of over 160 credibly accused priests.”, says Kaul.

The Diocese of La Crosse released this statement to News 8 Now:

On Monday, April 26, 2021, representatives from the Diocese of La Crosse, along with representatives from the other four Dioceses and leaders of religious orders of the State, participated in a meeting led by Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul. The Attorney General announced that his office is beginning a statewide investigation into all previous cases of clergy and faith leaders’ sexual abuse. It is important to note that in his request of documents, Mr. Kaul is referencing a review of historical cases and not any new reports or allegations.

In the Diocese of La Crosse we take the issue of sexual abuse of minors seriously. In order to bring healing and reinforce our commitment to the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, the Diocese of La Crosse has proactively taken significant steps to ensure accountability in the processes established to review allegations of abuse of minors by clergy in the Diocese. Through the Protect and Heal initiative of the Diocese of La Crosse, procedures for the reporting and investigation of complaints of sexual abuse of minors by clergy were re-written, ensuring independence in the process. The Independent Review Board was reorganized to allow for a greater involvement of the laity. A comprehensive review of all clergy files was completed in 2019 by an independent firm. Then in January 2020, Bishop William Patrick Callahan, in his commitment to truth and transparency, released to the public the names and ministry details of clergy with confirmed allegations of child sexual abuse. The list is actively updated if any new information is received, independently investigated and substantiated.

We believe that the education, training, prevention and investigation policies and procedures that have been put into place over the past years in the Diocese of La Crosse have dramatically improved the protection of children entrusted into our care. Outreach and opportunities of healing for survivors of abuse are growing through pastoral initiatives and support within the local Church.

The Diocese of La Crosse will examine the letter of requests from the Attorney General when it is received. At that time, the Diocese of La Crosse will assess the statutory authority for the requests, as well as other considerations, like the confidentiality rights of those survivors of abuse whose privacy interests could be impaired by a release of sensitive information to a public agency. 

May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil, and bring us to everlasting life.


Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul was joined by prosecutors and victim groups Tuesday while he announced an inquiry into clergy and faith leader sexual abuse in Wisconsin.

Watch it live on the News 8 Now Facebook page.