MADISON, Wis. - The Wisconsin Supreme Court yesterday dismissed a lawsuit filed by five men who claimed two Roman Catholic dioceses should have reported sexual abuse claims against a teacher before he moved on to a Kentucky diocese and molested them.
The lawsuit alleged that the Diocese of Milwaukee told Gary Kazmarek to "leave Milwaukee quietly" in the 1960s before he moved to suburban Madison and later Kentucky, where he is serving a 13-year prison sentence for abusing the five men between 1968 and 1973.
The high court rejected the men's claims that the Milwaukee and Madison dioceses were negligent in failing to contact police or warn employers that Kazmarek was known for sexually abusing children. The justices said the men did not allege that the dioceses even knew Kazmarek was teaching at a Catholic school in Louisville, Ky., or that the Archdiocese had ever asked for references.
"Reasonable and ordinary care does not require the Diocese to notify all potential subsequent employers within dioceses and parochial school systems across the country, along with all parents of future unforeseeable victims," Justice Louis Butler.
Although the dioceses of Milwaukee and Madison knew about Kazmarek's past, their failure to warn potential victims in other states did not constitute negligence, the Supreme Court said.
"Obviously, I think it's unfortunate because this is a teacher that molested students in two different locations and went on to do it again," said Wendy Gunderson, the attorney for the men.
The Diocese of Milwaukee did not immediately return messages seeking comment.