Retired Wisconsin Priest Faces San Diego Sex Assault Charges

Associated Press, carried in [San Diego CA]
May 9, 2003

SAN DIEGO - A retired Catholic priest from Wisconsin was arrested and charged with allegedly sexually assaulting a 15-year-old San Diego youth during the late 1970s, officials said.

Franklyn Becker, 65, was taken into custody Friday afternoon by authorities with the Mayvale Police Department in Wisconsin, said Christina Clem, a spokeswoman for California Attorney General Bill Lockyer, whose office brought the charges against Becker.

The former clergyman faces four counts of sexual assault, including oral copulation and molestation of a child under the age of 18, for alleged acts between January 1977 and January 1978, according to a complaint filed in San Diego County Superior Court.

Becker was serving as a visiting priest from Wisconsin at St. Brigid Church in San Diego at the time, officials said.

The unidentified victim brought the allegations to the Diocese of San Diego in April 2002, said Rod Valdivia, the diocese's chancellor. The diocese was developing a protocol on how to handle sex abuse claims and the allegations were not turned over to the San Diego County district attorney's office until July 2002. They were later handed over to Lockyer's office.

At least six other sex abuse cases involving allegations against San Diego priests are being reviewed by the state attorney general's office, Valdivia said. None involve active priests.

Calls to the Milwaukee Roman Catholic Archdiocese, where Becker previously served as a priest, were not immediately returned.

The Wisconsin diocese restricted Becker from any active ministry duties last July, citing allegations of past sexual contact with a minor. No further details were given at the time, and it was not clear whether the allegations were related to the charges brought by California officials on Friday.

Becker had no ministry assignment at the time but had been available to help out on weekends.


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