Crime and Court Roundup: Judge throws out claims against the Milwaukee Catholic ArchdioceseWisconsin News
-- A bankruptcy judge has thrown out two damage claims from those saying they were molested by priests in the Milwaukee Catholic Archdiocese.
A bankruptcy judge has thrown out two damage claims from those saying they were molested by priests in the Milwaukee Catholic Archdiocese. Judge Susan Kelley said one claim failed to prove that the church defrauded the victim – and the other victim had a reason to suspect fraud a number of years earlier, but did not act on it. The 10-county Milwaukee Archdiocese filed bankruptcy almost two years ago because of the settlements it’s still facing in the priest sex abuse scandal. Over 570 people have claimed they were molested by Milwaukee area priests – and they’re the largest group of creditors, as they seek compensation for their ordeals. Other Catholic branches have also filed for bankruptcy, but none have tried to throw out large numbers of damage claims like the Milwaukee church is trying to do. The Archdiocese says it should not have to pay damage claims that go beyond the six-year statute of limitations, and those in which settlements have already been paid out. The church also says it should not have to pay for abuses by priests in separate religious orders. Victims and their lawyers have lashed out at the church’s legal strategy, saying it’s “legally and morally wrong.” But church attorney Frank LoCoco said the archdiocese made it clear from the start that it would only pay for claims which the law requires to be paid.
A Milwaukee woman will spend the rest of her life in prison for strangling a pregnant woman and stealing the baby, hoping to pass it off as her own. 34-year-old Annette Morales-Rodriguez sat motionless with her head down yesterday, as she was given a life sentence with no chance for a supervised release. She was desperate to deliver a son to her boyfriend but could not do it naturally – so she tried grabbing an unborn infant from the womb of 23-year-old Maritza Ramirez-Cruz. Both the infant and the mother died from the incident – which took place in October of last year. Assistant district attorney Mark Williams called it “the most selfish act anyone could conceive of.” The victim’s husband, Christian Mercado, testified that the defendant left three children without a mother. And the judge noted that Morales-Rodriguez “didn’t bat an eye” as Mercado quoted a daughter who asked him that if her mother was in Heaven, why couldn’t she see her. The fetal abduction was one of only 14 in the U-S since 1987.
A suburban Milwaukee man will spend a year-and-a-half in prison for killing a woman with his vehicle. Police said 45-year-old Mary Jane Moore was lying in a street outside a tavern in West Allis, when she was run over by 32-year-old Jesse Steinmetz of West Allis. The incident occurred on April 29th. Steinmetz pleaded no contest to a reduced charge of negligent homicide. He was originally charged with fatal hit-and-run. After his prison term, Steinmetz must spend five years under extended supervision. During that time, he’s been ordered to undergo a drug-and-alcohol assessment, maintain absolute sobriety, and perform 200 hours of community service. Moore’s son, 22-year-old Thomas Olson, died in a traffic crash the same day his mother was killed. Police said he and a friend were rushing to a hospital after Moore heard that his mother was run over. But she was already dead by then. The driver in that crash, 21-year-old Xavier Hughes, has pleaded no contest to homicide by drunk driving. He’ll be sentenced next Thursday.