Former Wisconsin priest arrested on 30-year-old abuse accusations

| November 28, 2018 | 0 Comments

A former Wisconsin priest was arrested Nov. 16 in Minneapolis and charged with sexual abuse of minors in accusations of behavior that date back to when he was serving in the priesthood in Wisconsin more than 30 years ago.

Thomas E. Ericksen, 71, was charged by the Sawyer County District Attorney’s Office in Hayward, Wis., with first-degree sexual assault of a child, second-degree sexual assault against a child and second-degree sexual assault of an unconscious victim.

Thomas E. Ericksen

Thomas E. Ericksen Courtesy of Hennepin County

Formerly of Winter, Wis., Ericksen was ordained in 1973. He was suspended from priestly ministry in 1983 by the late Bishop Raphael Fliss for alleged sexual misconduct with minors, when Ericksen was pastor of St. Peter in Winter, said Dan Blank, director of administrative services for the Diocese of Superior.

Ericksen was laicized by the Vatican in 1988 and left Wisconsin, reportedly traveling as far away as Indonesia, Blank said.

Television station KSTP in Minneapolis reported Nov. 19 that Ericksen recently was reported to police by volunteers at a Lutheran Church’s soup kitchen in Minneapolis who were concerned about his behavior around young people. That led to his arrest on warrants issued in Wisconsin.

Bishop James F. Powers of Superior said in a statement Ericksen had been appropriately suspended from priestly ministry and laicized. The bishop said he shares the sentiments of sadness, anger and pain of abuse victims, and he is committed to a “no cover-up” policy regarding Church abuse complaints.

“I have begun the process of reviewing priest personnel files, and am praying for wisdom as we move forward together to heal our Church from the abuses of the past,” the bishop said. “Please pray for me as I discern appropriate future actions for our diocese, and please pray for our currently serving priests and deacons who are faithfully serving us all during these troubled times.”

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