Assignment Record– Rev. William J. Effinger

Summary of Case: Ordained a priest of the Milwaukee archdiocese in 1960, Effinger was removed from active ministry in 1992 after admitting during a television interview to having molested a boy years earlier. Archbishop Weakland knew of at least one accusation as early as 1979, but kept Effinger in ministry. The archdiocese settled with nine people, men and women, who alleged sexual abuse by Effinger as children. Allegations span every decade of his time as a priest. Effinger was convicted in 1993 of the sexual assault of a 14-year-old boy in 1988 and received a 10-year prison sentence. Effinger died in prison Dec. 4, 1996.

Ordained: 1960

Start Stop Assignment Town/Accusations State Position Notes


Milwaukee archbishop was William Edward Cousins (1958-1977)

1972 St. Mary's


• Effinger admitted in 1992 that he sexually abused a teenage boy 23 years before, in Kenosha.

• In a 1993 lawsuit, a man accused Effinger of sexually abusing him and his brothers and sisters when they were children. He said he told the St. Mary's school principal at the time.

• A woman said Effinger violently raped her when she was age 8, in September or early October of 1968. Although the little girl and her family were parishioners at St. Mary's, the rape occurred inside of St. Francis de Sales Church in Lake Geneva. Before the assault, the girl's father and Effinger had been drinking alcohol for hours inside the St. Francis rectory while the girl and her little sister waited outside. When Effinger emerged, he said he needed the girl's help with the candles inside the church. The woman said further that, after the rape, Effinger gave her penance, and told her that if she told, no one would believe her and her parents would burn in hell. She reported the abuse to the archdiocese twenty years later, and sued unsuccessfully in the 1990s.


3/3, 2/3

St. Mary's had a school with 959-485 students.




1972 1973 St. Aloysius West Allis WI 2/3 St. Aloysius had a school with 460 students.


Rembert George Weakland succeeded Cousins (1977-2002)

1979 St. Francis of Sales

Lake Geneva

• Effinger was accused in a 1993 lawsuit of sexually assaulting a boy in 1979. The suit claimed the archdiocese knew Effinger had problems with alcohol and pedophilia before 1979, yet kept him in ministry. Effinger is said to have invited the boy, who was 13 years-old, to spend the night in the rectory. It was Easter Sunday, and the priest had spent the day celebrating with the boy's family, who considered him a close friend. Effinger explained that the boy, who was an altar server, wouldn't have to get up so early the next morning to serve mass if he stayed the night. His parents agreed. The boy told his mother the next day, after mass, that Effinger had given him alcohol and molested him.

• A couple who were St. Francis parishioners told Weakland in 1979 that Effinger abused their son.

• One accuser said he was sexually abused repeatedly by Effinger at age 6, in 1978.

WI 2/2

St. Francis' had a school with 209-125 students.

Weakland admitted in 1993 that he received a report in 1979 of child sexual abuse by Effinger.


Weakland sent Effinger to a Milwaukee therapist in response to the couple's complaint.

1979   St. Peter of Alcantara Port Washington WI   This assignment is per news reports.
1979 Oct. 1992 Holy Name


• Effinger was convicted in 1993 of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old boy, in the boy's Sheboygan home, in 1987 and 1988.

• At least seven men and two women reported having been molested by Effinger as children over a 20 year period.

• Another man disclosed to his parents in 1997 that Effinger sexually abused him when he was a 12-year-old boy, in 1987. The man's parents said their son changed "overnight" from "kind, decent, and polite" to a "horrible person", after the abuse by Effinger. They said their son went into a "downward spiral", that included drug abuse.

WI 1/2, 1/1

Holy Name had a school with 208-359 students.

Effinger was removed from Holy Name in Oct. 1992 after he admitted in a television interview to having molested a boy 23 years previously.

1993 1996 Dodge Correctional Institution Waupun WI inmate

Effinger was sentenced to ten years in prison in July 1993, for the sexual abuse of a boy in 1987-1988.

Effinger died in prison, Dec. 4, 1996.

Source: Official Catholic Directory (New York: Kenedy & Sons, 1961-1996).

Departed Priest Topic of Meeting, Capital Times, November 3, 1992
Priest Charged with Sex Assault, Wisconsin State Journal, January 8, 1993
Priest's Plea, Wisconsin State Journal, January 20, 1993
Priest Accused, Wisconsin State Journal, March 11, 1993
Priest Gets 10 Years for Sexual Assault, Wisconsin State Journal, July 20, 1993
Sex Victim's Father Says Priest Betrayed Family, Capital Times, July 21, 1993
Parishes Not Warned of Priest's Past, Capital Times, November 10, 1993
Church Settles with 9 for Abuse by Priest, Chicago Tribune, December 1, 1993
Negligence Issue, By Richard P. Jones, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel [Wisconsin], July 31, 1996
Child Molester Dies in Prison, Wisconsin State Journal, December 5, 1996
High Court to Hear Priest Sex Cases; Seven Claim Emotional Damage and Say Catholic Church Should Pay, By Cary Segall, Wisconsin State Journal [Madison WI], January 26, 1997
Court Applies Time Limit to Some Sexual Abuse Suits, By Cary Segall, Wisconsin State Journal [Madison WI]
June 28, 1997
Weakland Gives Priests Abuse Data, By Marie Rohde, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, March 24, 2002
Archdiocese Fought Hard in Court, by Tom Kertscher and Marie Rohde, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, April 15, 2002
Priest-Abuse Victims Share Their Grief, By Tom Heinen and Marie Rohde, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, October 23, 2002
Statement by the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, July 9, 2004
List of 43 Abusive Priests Released, By Tom Heinen, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel [Wisconsin], July 10, 2004
Archdiocese of Milwaukee List of Clergy Offenders, Archdiocese of Milwaukee, March 3, 2012
Sheboygan Family Shares Its Story of Priest Abuse to Help Others Come Forward, By Janet Ortegon, Sheboygan Press, October 27, 2012
Archdiocese of Milwaukee Sex-abuse Victims Push for More Open Records, By Annysa Johnson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel,
June 28, 2013
'I Remember Wishing I Could Die and Wondering Why God Wasn't Coming to Help Me', By Jill Tatge-Rozell, The Kenosha News,
October 19, 2013

Priests in a Parish: We use the following convention to show a priest's place among the clergy of a parish: 1/2 means that he is the first priest listed in the Official Catholic Directory (usually the pastor) and that there is a total of two priests at the parish. The shorthand 3/4 means that the priest is listed third on a four-priest roster. See our sample page from the Directory.

Note: The Official Catholic Directory aims to report the whereabouts of Catholic priests in the United States on January 1 of the Directory's publication year. Our working assumption is that a priest listed in the Directory for a given year was at the same assignment for part of the previous year as well. However, Kenedy & Sons will sometimes accept updates well into the year of publication. Diocesan clergy records are rarely available to correct this information. The Directory is also sometimes misleading or wrong. We have tried to create an accurate assignment record, given the source materials and their limitations. Assignment records are a work in progress and we are always improving the records that we post. Please email us with new information and corrections.

This assignment record collates Effinger's career history as it is represented in the Official Catholic Directory with allegations as reported in the media. We make no representation regarding the truth of the allegation we report, and we remind our readers that the U.S. legal system presumes that a person accused of or charged with a crime is innocent until proven guilty. Similarly, individuals who may be defendants in civil actions are presumed not to be liable for such claims unless a plaintiff proves otherwise. Admissions of guilt or liability are not typically a part of civil or private settlements. For more information, see our posting policy.

This assignment record was last updated on Nov. 5, 2013


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