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In 1974, parents from St. Augustine Parish wrote letters of complaint about Father Bistricky to Archbishop Cousins. They stated that Father promoted a permissive atmosphere among the teenagers, encouraging “streaking” and “mooning” (both activities involving at least partial nudity). They said he came to the door of his room in the nude while on a trip with youth. They objected to his foul language. They reported that he had taken nude photographs of adolescent boys and submitted a copy of such a photograph.
Archbishop Cousins met with and reprimanded Bistricky. When there was additional information that the pattern of behavior had not ceased, the matter was turned over to a priest who was serving as an “ombudsman” to investigate and handle complaints about priests. The ombudsman met with 19 parents and heard their reports which were consistent with what had previously been submitted in writing. The ombudsman met with Bistricky and reported that he had explanations for some of the incidents. Other incidents he left in the realm of indiscretions or lack of control in supervision of adolescents.
Father Bistricky was ordered to seek professional counseling. This resolution was reported to the parents. Auxiliary Bishop Brust collected the files on this matter and placed them in a locked cabinet.
In 1997, the materials related to this 1974 action came to light when an old office used by the then deceased Auxiliary Bishop Brust was cleaned out and this file of paperwork was found in a locked cabinet. Auxiliary Bishop Richard Sklba and the vicar for clergy met with Bistricky and told him to have no unsupervised contact with minors. Bistricky denied the severity of any complaints, stating that everything had already been resolved.
In 1997, Bishop Sklba was contacted by an abuse survivor who said he had met with the Bishop previously. Bishop Sklba had no memory or notes of such a meeting. Bishop Sklba inquired of Dr. Elizabeth Piasecki if there was any record in her office of such a meeting. She found no record of any previous contact by this individual.
In March, 2002, a report of sexual abuse by Bistricky was filed. The abuse was reported as occurring from 1968 to 1972. The person making the report said he was aged 12 to 16 at the time. The report was submitted to the Milwaukee district attorney for review and the matter was determined to be beyond the Statute of Limitations. Bistricky was restricted from all ministry, and from any contact with minors.
In November, 2002, Archbishop Dolan was notified that Bistricky was still offering Mass at a parish. In February, 2003, Archbishop Dolan repeated that all restrictions were to be observed. The case was handed over to an independent investigator, who submitted his report to Archbishop Dolan in July, 2003. The case was sent to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in July, 2003, requesting that Bistricky be dismissed from the clerical state. At the same time, Bistricky was again advised that he was restricted from all exercise of ministry.
In 2005, another report of sexual abuse by Bistricky was received. It was reported as occurring in 1968. This additional report was submitted to supplement the case still pending at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
In 2006, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith informed Archbishop Dolan that a dismissal from the clerical state would not be issued because Bistricky consistently denied the claims. They advised that a penal trial be conducted or Bistricky submit a request for voluntary laicization or be ordered to live a life of prayer and penance. Archbishop Dolan requested and received authorization to conduct an administrative penal process. The initiation of the process was delayed due to Bistricky’s serious health concerns.
In November, 2006, Archbishop Dolan advised the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that Bistricky was in such ill health that he had entered into hospice care. Any canonical procedure would not be possible, so Bistricky was to live the remainder of his life in prayer and penance.
Bistricky died in December 2006.
This narrative is based on facts contained in documents related to this Diocesan priest offender.
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