Ex-priest: Archdiocese payment helped in new life

Published On: May 31 2012 01:10:49 PM CDT   Updated On: May 31 2012 01:04:40 PM CDT

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- An ex-priest who received $20,000 from the Archdiocese of Milwaukee to leave the ministry after he was accused of sexual abuse says he viewed the payment as charity to help him readjust to a new way of life.

The Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, however, considers that payment and others made to other suspected pedophile priests a payoff or bonus. Details of the payments came to light in a bankruptcy document filed by the archdiocese.

Jerome Wagner said Thursday he used the money to go mortuary school after leaving his parish in Fond du Lac in 2002. The archdiocese has acknowledged Wagner was accused of sexual abuse of a minor, but he was not charged criminally.

The archdiocese says the payments help quickly remove men from the priesthood.