Becker Case
Franklyn Becker's service as a priest, highlighting important abuse and coverup-related events

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
February 1, 2008

[Note: This page was transcribed and scanned from the original print edition and links to the documents were added. See also the main page of this feature.]

May 30, 1964
Becker is ordained a priest. Before this date he was accused of having a sexual relationship with another seminarian and was questioned by Archbishop William Cousins about the situation but was found fit to be a priest. [See Becker's ordination announcement.]

Feb. 11, 1980
Becker writes a letter to Archbishop Rembert Weakland admitting that he was "involved" with a teenage boy at St. Margaret Mary parish. He says he has talked to the mother of the boy, who "does not intend to press any charges." "I have also been in dialogue with several other priests who have been supportive," Becker writes, adding that he is seeing a therapist and that if another position cannot be found for him in Wisconsin, he would "be grateful if you could put me in touch with a benevolent bishop in California where I might serve." [See Becker's letter to Weakland.]

Oct. 3, 1980
The Milwaukee Archdiocese considers placing Becker in an unidentified parish in a small community. But the priest at that parish says he is "afraid that if Becker's problem manifests itself in the small community, the damage will be irreparable." [See relevant page from the vicar's log.]

Jan. 10, 1981
A priest contacts the archdiocese to report that the mother of a boy claims that Becker held her child's hand in a movie and touched him inappropriately while swimming. Becker adamantly denies doing anything. The parents believe him and apologize for bringing the accusations. Becker is asked to see a therapist. [See relevant page from the vicar's log.]

Aug. 17, 1982
Another priest tells the archdiocese that he is "worried" about Becker's relationship with a teenage boy and has been contacted by the boy's parents. He says Becker is lavishing gifts and attention on the boy and that they are "spending a lot of time together." [See relevant page from the vicar's log.]

Dec. 7, 1982
Becker tells archdiocesan officials that he took a seventh grade boy, one of his parish altar boys, on a Caribbean trip with the boy's parents' approval. He assures church officials that he had no physical contact with the boy. Becker agrees to see a therapist. [See relevant page from the vicar's log.]

Dec. 20, 1982
No pastor wants Becker in his parish, and archdiocesan officials continue to struggle with where to place him. Becker is offered additional therapy. [See relevant page from the vicar's log.]

Jan. 26, 1983
Father Joseph Janicki, vicar of priests, receives a letter from a friend of Becker's who is concerned about his behavior. He says many people are aware of his problems "including those with young boys." The letter writer states that he hopes the archdiocese is "finally beginning to draw the net around him and take more drastic steps to deal with his problem." [See letter from Becker's friend to Janicki.]

March 15, 1983
Archdiocesan officials call Milwaukee County District Attorney E. Michael McCann and express concern that Becker is continuing to visit with a boy after repeatedly being told to stop. McCann is told that the mother supports the boy's relationship with Becker and that the boy has made no allegations of sexual abuse. McCann advises the officials to limit Becker's contact with the boy and other juveniles for five years. [See relevant page from the vicar's log.]

March 2[9], 1983
A woman is concerned that Becker is showing her son unwanted attention and that he recently suggested he and the boy get together because they share "common interests." [See letter to Janicki.]

May 10, 1983
A therapist working with Becker tells archdiocesan officials that Becker is a "pedophile" and has no mechanism to stop once he develops the urge to act out these characteristics." More therapy is suggested. Becker is told that the next time the diocese receives a complaint, he will be suspended. [See relevant page from the vicar's log.]

Aug. 13, 1983
Weakland writes a letter to Becker and says he is cautioning him because "of past personal problems." Weakland says he will take action to remove him from the priesthood if "further occurrences of this same nature arise." He is told to continue in therapy. [See Weakland's letter to Becker.]

April 17, 1984
Green Bay Bishop Adam Maida is contacted by Milwaukee archdiocesan officials about placing Becker as a chaplain at a mental health hospital in his diocese. Maida is given "full disclosure" about Becker and declines the request. [See relevant page from the vicar's log.]

July 13, 1984
Milwaukee archdiocesan officials speak with Madison Bishop George Wirz about Becker's working in his diocese at a hospital as a chaplain. Wirz refuses the request because of an incident in the Madison area in which a priest was in "litigation" for sexually inappropriate behavior. "The incident was kept very quiet and the priest was whisked off to some treatment place in California where he is right now," the records quote Wirz as saying. [See relevant page from the vicar's log.]

Oct. 25, 1984
A priest calls to express his concern about Becker's being assigned to West Allis Memorial Hospital as a chaplain. The priest is aware of the problems Becker had in California and "he knows his condition." The priest is told that Becker is under psychiatric care and that his psychiatrist approved of his assignment. [See relevant page from the vicar's log.]

July 25, 1990
A mother files a complaint with West Allis police after Becker called her boy at home after the boy was released from the hospital. He told her son that "he would like to talk to him about teenagers" and the mother felt he was acting "strange" and wanted him checked out by the police. Becker tells police that he was "concerned" about the boy because his father had died, but he agrees to stop calling the boy. [See two pages from the vicar's log 1 2.]

March 7, 1993
The archdiocese tells that allegations involving "inappropriate sexual behavior" have been made against him involving a family at one of his previous parishes. Becker says the boy involved was "very disturbed" and denies any wrongdoing. [See relevant page from the vicar's log.]

July 1, 1993
Becker is "unassigned with restricted ministry."

Sept. 5, 1995
Another unspecified "allegation" against Becker is received by the archdiocese. [See relevant page from the vicar's log.]

July 16, 2001
Archdiocese receives another allegation of sexual misconduct against Becker dating to about 1980. [See relevant page from the vicar's log.]

April 10, 2002
The archdiocese places Becker on a monitoring program in which he is to refrain from all contact with minors and orders him to stop all public ministries. [See relevant page from the vicar's log.]

May 9, 2003
Becker is arrested on sexual abuse charges involving a California victim. The charges are later dropped.

May 16, 2003
Archbishop Timothy Dolan writes to Joseph Ratzinger, who heads the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome, and asks that Becker be dismissed from the priesthood. "It is clear that he consistently abused his office both to gain access to vulnerable boys and to elicit the trust of their parents—he found opportunities to abuse his office in a flagrant and repetitive fashion," Dolan writes. [See Dolan's letter to Ratzinger.]

Source: Archdiocesan and court documents; news research by Mary Zahn /


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