Finally, finally, the press is asking
questions about why a Milwaukee priest who abused as many as 200 deaf boys
between 1950 and 1974 was never prosecuted by the police. And the answers they
are getting sound as lame as those offered by former Archbishop Rembert
Fr Lawrence C. Murphy was forced to retire
in 1974 but remained a priest. The New York Times has noted that police were
aware of his crimes, but failed to investigate. Now Dinesh Ramde, of Associated
Press, has started digging deeper. He reports that the Survivors Network of
those Abused by Priests, which maintains that Milwaukee prosecutors should have
charged Murphy, has found documents dating from 1974 which appear to show that
the district attorney’s office was aware of the abuse.
But E. Michael McCann, the Milwaukee County
district attorney from 1968 to 2004, dismissed the allegations. He says that
the group is overestimating the significance of the documents. He claims that
his office was bound by a statute of limitations that required prosecution
within six year of the alleged crimes.
The familiar sound of red tape strangling
justice also emerges from the claim and counter-claim. One of the documents is
an affadavit from a student who says that he was assaulted on school trips to
New York, Washington DC and Minnesota. Sorry, says Mr MrCann, nothing to do
with us. AP writes:
McCann said his office had no jurisdiction
to prosecute those allegations because they occurred in other states; he didn’t
know whether an assistant district attorney who worked on Murphy’s case
informed authorities in those states about the allegations.
Milwaukee Church authorities certainly
deserve criticism for not moving more swiftly. But what about Milwaukee
prosecutors? Why isn’t the New York Times raking them over the coals?