Jeffrey Anderson wonders if Milwaukee Archdiocese is hiding $75 million

Archbishop Listecki announced the Milwaukee Archdiocese bankruptcy in January.

Archbishop Listecki announced the Milwaukee Archdiocese bankruptcy in January.

The Archdiocese of Milwaukee says it's broke, and it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in January "because priest-perpetrators sexually abused minors."

It then hoped that a website offering some transparency of its financial status and strategy might assuage its critics, including Minneapolis attorney Jeffrey Anderson.

But he hasn't backed off. He suspects the archdiocese, over its denials, of hiding $75 million in assets.


Anderson represents all 23 of the victims seeking claims against the archdiocese, and he's already accused it of using the bankruptcy filing a way to hide the names of other priest-predators.

Founded in 1843, the archdiocese covers almost 5,000 square miles in Wisconsin. It has 210 parishes for 643,000 registered Catholics. It has paid out more than $12 million in settlement costs so far, sold off some property and mortgaged others, liquidated savings and investments, and eliminated some programs and services.

One priest in the archdiocese, Rev. Lawrence Murphy, sexually abused about 200 boys at a suburban school for deaf students for 24 years, starting in 1950. The New York Times revealed in March that the future Pope Benedict XVI did not defrock Murphy, despite warnings about him from several American bishops.

The archdiocese recently reported $40.7 million in assets and $24 million in liabilities. Anderson and a bankruptcy attorney got their first shot last week at questioning archdiocese CFO John Marek about a $75 million account that last appeared on its financial statements in 2003-04. Marek, who joined the archdiocese in 2007, couldn't answer the question.

Anderson and a bankruptcy attorney also questioned the transfer of a separate $55 million into a newly created cemetery trust in 2008, a year after the Wisconsin Supreme Court opened the door for victims to sue the archdiocese for fraud.

Jeffrey Anderson.

Jeffrey Anderson.

Marek, who was hired by the archdiocese in 2007, could not answer questions about the $75 million.

"We have serious questions about what we've seen and heard today," Anderson told the Journal Sentinel.

More on Jeffrey Anderson: