In November, 1992, Sheboygan County District Attorney Frisch telephoned Bishop Sklba to report that his office had received an anonymous call from someone reporting inappropriate behavior by Peters 30 years earlier. Bishop Sklba reported the call to Peters who denied any such conduct. The person making the original call could not be identified or questioned further.
In May, 1994, Peters requested that Bishop Sklba write a letter to the Diocese of Santa Fe endorsing Peters for scouting activities there. Bishop Sklba denied the request.
In December, 1998, the Chancellor of the Diocese of Orlando requested that Peters be issued a letter of endorsement for ministry within that diocese.
In January, 1999, Archbishop Weakland responded to the request for endorsement for ministry in Orlando by reporting on the 1992 accusation. It is not clear why Archbishop Weakland reported more than one call or why he stated the calls came to the Chancery rather than to the DA. Peters was denied ministry in Orlando.
In December, 1999, Archbishop Weakland wrote to Bishop Dorsey of Orlando reiterating the report of the anonymous phone call regarding Peters. It is not clear what is meant by reference to a full investigation. He noted that Peters had not been restricted from ministry.
In 2002, the Sheboygan Sheriff’s Department served a search warrant on Peters at his home. They seized his computer but it was later returned because there was no evidence of any inappropriate material. In the course of questioning over the action of the sheriff’s department, Peters spontaneously admitted that there were incidents of sexual contact with minors in his past. He made this declaration to the investigating civil authorities and to the vicar for clergy. On that basis, Peters was placed under precept not to exercise any public ministry. A full review of Peters’ files then surfaced a questionable sequence of events in 1971 when Peters asked Auxiliary Bishop Brust for a mid-year transfer from his assignment. Peters’ admission of sexual abuse would date those incidents to the letters and mid-year change of assignment in 1971.
In 2002, an individual reported to the archdiocese abuse by Peters in 1959 when the individual was 15 or 16-years-old. The archdiocesan victim assistance coordinator followed up with the individual and a formal intake report was taken. In the report the individual said Peters showed him pornography and then fondled him. The same individual reported that he believed there are others that Peters abused.
In 2004, as part of the attempt to bring resolution to this situation, Peters again admitted that there were two or three others who might come forward.
In 2004, an individual reported to the archdiocese observing abuse by Peters but not having been abused. The person reported as the abused individual could not be identified.
Archbishop Dolan considered Peters’ age and his compliance with full restrictions on his ministry and proposed that Peters agree to live a life of prayer and penance while remaining under precept. Peters was informed that to do so would mean he would not be free to travel and live elsewhere in another diocese for six or more months of the year. He would need to remain in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee to be monitored. Peters refused this proposal and elected to seek voluntary laicization. He was given financial assistance from the archdiocese for health care.
Peters was laicized in October, 2007.
This narrative is based on facts contained in documents related to this Diocesan priest offender.
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