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Man to File Suit Over Alleged Sex Abuse By Ex-Green Bay Priest

Apr 10, 2003 | Green Bay Press Gazette

A Marshfield man will sue the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay, SS. Peter & Paul School and Donald Buzanowski, a former Green Bay priest, for sexual abuse that he claims happened to him as a boy about 15 years ago.

David Schauer, 25, announced the suit in a news conference held on South Webster Avenue, in front of the Diocese Chancery office Wednesday afternoon. He was accompanied by his parents and by representatives of a group called SNAP Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

The suit was expected to be filed Wednesday in Brown County Circuit Court, but it was not by the time the courthouse closed at 4:30 p.m.

“My relations with my wife have suffered; there are periods of anger and outbursts when she just tries to be affectionate,†Schauer said in explaining the emotional trauma that he says he still suffers because of up to six incidents of sexual abuse by Buzanowski in the late 1980s.

Schauer was a fifth-grader at SS. Peter & Paul School, where he was a newcomer thanks to a merging of some Green Bay Catholic grade schools, he said. He was having trouble fitting in with his classmates and began counseling sessions with Buzanowski, who then sexually abused him, Schauer said.

“I went to the police after it happened,†Schauer said, fighting tears. “I was told there was nothing they could do, that there was insufficient evidence — my word against his.â€

The family met with diocesan officials, specifically with then-vicar of priests the Rev. David Kiefer, who pledged financial assistance in further counseling for David, and promised that Buzanowski would have no more access to children, said Schauer’s mother, Judith Schauer.

But Buzanowski left Green Bay in 1990, became a drug and alcohol counselor for teens in Milwaukee and was arrested for and convicted of possession of child pornography. Buzanowski has since revealed to the pastor of a Milwaukee Protestant church that he had molested 14 boys between the ages of 14 and 17 in the 1970s and 1980s, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He was a priest in the Green Bay diocese in the period, but Schauer said he was not one of those 14 boys, because he was only 10 when he was abused.

In his suit, Schauer alleges that the Green Bay diocese concealed information about Buzanowski that prevented criminal prosecution in 1990 and allowed him to continue to pose a risk to other youths.

The diocese issued a statement Wednesday saying that since it has not seen a copy of the lawsuit, it cannot comment on Schauer’s statements.

“However, we want to issue an important clarification: At that time, the diocese chose to pay for David’s counseling out of a pastoral concern for the child. The money did not come from Bishop’s Appeal funds. It came from interest on diocesan investments,†the diocese said.

Green Bay Bishop Robert Banks said the diocese knew of only the one allegation concerning Buzanowski and that it followed its procedures upon learning of that allegation. Buzanowski left the priesthood at about the time Banks transferred from Boston to assume leadership of the Green Bay diocese.

“The diocese has no records of any other allegations, including any mentioned in the letter written by Buzanowski in August 2002 where he claimed to have abused 14 boys while serving this diocese. The Green Bay Police Department is investigating the claims made by Buzanowski in his letter,†the diocese release says.

A copy of the lawsuit provided to the Green Bay Press-Gazette says Schauer is seeking damages in an amount to be determined at trial.

Schauer’s lawyer, Jeffery Anderson of St. Paul, Minn., faulted Banks for what he said was the Catholic Church’s traditional reaction of silence to allegations against its priests.

“Banks inherited the knowledge and information from his predecessor, and Banks is the one that stood silent and allowed this to be concealed from police, parishioners, the prosecutors and, more importantly, from this plaintiff,†Anderson said.

Schauer also hopes that success in his civil suit will prompt prosecutors to reopen the case and charge Buzanowski criminally, Anderson said.


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