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John Doe 1 v. Archdiocese of Milwaukee

Wisconsin Supreme Court
734 N.W.2d 827 (2007)


Three John Does and Charles Linneman (plaintiffs) who were sexually molested by priests sued the Archdiocese of Milwaukee (defendant) based on negligent supervision and fraud. Evidently, the Diocese knew that priest Siegfried Widera had been convicted of sexual perversion and that priest Franklyn Becker had also sexually molested children. The Diocese nonetheless simply transferred the priests to different parishes, with unsupervised access to children. In response to parishioner letters, the Diocese did not disclose the priests’ history and instead reaffirmed positive comments about them. The claimants alleged that those acts constituted an affirmative representation by the Diocese that it did not know the priests had a history of molestation and posed a danger to children. The trial court dismissed on limitations grounds, and the appellate court affirmed. The claimants appealed further to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Roggensack, J.)

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