Rev. David J. Hanser

Summary of Case: Hanser is believed to have sexually abused many boys during his career as a priest. According to SNAP, at least 17 people have come forward as Hanser victims. He was removed from a parish in 1988 after four men, who were brothers, reported that Hanser had sexually abused them as children. The archdiocese then sent him to area hospitals to serve as a chaplain. In a 2009 lawsuit two more brothers from another family accused Hanser of having molested them as children. Hanser was laicized in 2005.


Ordained: 1958



Start Stop Assignment Town/Accusations State Position Notes


Milwaukee bishop was Albert Gregory Meyer (Jul.1953-Sept. 1958), replaced by William Edward Cousins (Dec. 1958-Sept. 1977).

1960 Christ the King Wauwatosa WI


Parish had a school with 1,164-1,173 students.
1960 1961 Sacred Heart Racine WI 2/2 Parish had a school with 401 students.
1961 1970 Catholic Memorial High School


• Hanser was accused in 1988 of having sexually abused four brothers when they were children during this time period. The brothers said he had befriended their family of ten children, and would often invite them to sleep over at his cottage at Moose Lake in Merton, WI. Much of the abuse is said to have occurred at the cottage. One of the brothers was a student at Catholic Memorial, and Hanser was his guidance counselor. (Journal Sentinel Online
April 21, 2002)

WI guidance counselor

School had 851-1,052 students.

    St. Joseph's


• According to a 2009 lawsuit, Hanser is said to have molested a boy at this parish, and the boy tried to report it to the archdiocese. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
September 8, 2009)

1970 1972 St. Joseph High School Kenosha WI   This assignment is per the Milwaukee archdiocese.
1970 1972? St. Thomas Aquinas Kenosha WI


In residence.

Hanser is indexed but not listed at this parish in the diocesan pages of the 1972 Official Catholic Directory.


Cousins was replaced as bishop by Rembert George Weakland (Sept. 1977-May 2002).

1978 St. John Vianney's


• Another man came forward in the 2000's to report that Hanser sexually assaulted him at St. John Vianney's, when the man was a second grader at the parish school. The (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
October 14, 2010) He said Hanser came to the classroom looking for a volunteer to help him, and that Hanser took him to the rectory, where the abuse occurred. (WTMJ
April 17, 2008)

WI 2/3, 2/2

Parish had a school with 453-481 students.

1978 1982 Holy Family Whitefish Bay WI 2/2 Parish had a school with 220-175 students.
1982 1988 St. Mary's


Two brothers accused Hanser in a 2009 lawsuit of having sexually abused them when they were about 10 and 13 years of age, beginning in 1982, while Hanser was pastor of St. Mary's. They said the abused occurred for several years. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
September 8, 2009)

WI 1/1

Parish had a school with 167-89 students.

Hanser was removed from this parish due to accusations by four men from the same family that Hanson sexually abused them as children.

1988 1991  


Noted in Directories to be "Awaiting Assignment".

late Feb. 1989 late May 1989 St. Luke's Medical Center Milwaukee   student in clinical pastoral education A sister of the brothers who had come forward in 1988 was a nurse at St. Luke's. When she discovered Hanser's presence at St. Luke's in May of 1989, she confronted the head of the pastoral education department. The sister tried to tell Bishop Sklba of her concern, but he did not respond to her phone call.
1991 2002 St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center Milwaukee WI Chaplain Hanser began as a chaplain at St. Joseph's in 1991, as well as at Elmbrook Memorial Hospital, and at two other hospitals in the Covenant Healthcare System. (Journal Sentinel Online
April 21, 2002) He is not listed as such in the Official Catholic Directories for 1991-1994, but is noted to be "Awaiting Assignment", then as on "Special Assignment".
1991   St. Joseph's Elmbrook WI Chaplain  
1991 2002 Elmbrook Memorial Hospital Brookfield WI Chaplain

No longer appears in Directories after 2001.

Hanser retired in April 2002, after news reports exposed his history of sexual abuse of boys. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
April 23, 2002)

2002 2011        

Known in 2004 to be fully restricted from ministry. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel [Wisconsin]
July 10, 2004)

By 2009, at least 17 people had come forward with allegations against Hanser, according to SNAP. (The WTMJ
September 6, 2009)

Hanser was laicized in 2005. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
September 8, 2009)

Source: Official Catholic Directory (New York: Kenedy & Sons, 1959-2001).

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 was last updated March 20, 2012


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.