Priest accused of molesting deaf boys

New case threatens to ensnare pope

Priest accused of molesting deaf boys

  A 1958 photo shows Arthur Budzinski sitting in the second desk in his 3rd grade classroom at St John’s School for the Deaf in St Francis, Wisconsin. Budzinski, now 61, was one of about 200 deaf boys who say they were molested by Rev Lawrence Murphy decades ago. APHe says he asked the Rev Lawrence Murphy to hear his confession, and instead the priest took him into a closet under the stairs and sexually assaulted him.

Budzinski, now 61, was one of about 200 deaf boys at the St John’s School for the Deaf just outside Milwaukee who say they were molested by the priest decades ago in a case now creating a scandal for the Vatican and threatening to ensnare Pope Benedict XVI.

Some of the allegations became public years ago. But they got renewed attention this week after documents showed that Murphy was spared a defrocking in the mid-1990s because he was protected by the Vatican office led by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now the pope. The Vatican on Thursday strongly defended its decision not to defrock Murphy and denounced what it called a campaign to smear the pope and his aides. In recent weeks, Benedict has also come under fire over his handling of an abuse case against a priest in Germany three decades ago when he was a cardinal in charge of the Munich Archdiocese.

In the Milwaukee-area case, Murphy was accused of molesting boys in the confessional, in dormitories, in closets and during field trips while working at the school for the deaf from the 1950s through 1974. Murphy died in 1998 at age 72.

Budzinski said Murphy preyed on him during the 1960s. The priest was fluent in sign language and often told the boys they were handsome. He said he avoided Murphy as much as he could afterward, but when he went to Murphy’s office to make a confession the priest led him to a room and sexually assaulted him again.

Other boys were assaulted too. “They would sleep in a large open room in bunk beds,” Budzinski’s daughter said. “My father saw them being molested, too. They’d never talk about it.”

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