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Brown County D.A. asked to investigate Norbertine priest

Nate's Mission is an abuse survivors advocacy group honoring the life of Nathan Lindstrom, who...
Nate's Mission is an abuse survivors advocacy group honoring the life of Nathan Lindstrom, who died by suicide March 9, 2020. He claimed he was sexually abused by a Norbertine as a student.(WBAY)
Published: Apr. 8, 2021 at 6:16 PM CDT
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DE PERE, Wis. (WBAY) - A group is calling on the Brown County district attorney to investigate a Norbertine priest for child sexual assault, saying new documents show the St. Norbert Abbey failed to address offenders.

The group “Nate’s Mission” and an abuse survivors network want to reopen an investigation into Father Edward Smith, who they say was transferred to the abbey in the 1980s after years of known abuse in Delaware then transferred back to Delaware after allegations of sexually assaulting at least two people during his time at the abbey. The group is named for Nathan Lindstrom, who claimed he was sexually abused by a Norbertine and died by suicide last year.

The survivors’ advocates want authorities to compel the Norbertine order to turn over documents related to clergy sexual abuse. They’re also asking the state attorney general to open a broader abuse inquiry.

“This is a problem of an organization that has shielded and enabled abusers like Father Smith for decades,” Nate’s Mission associate director Sarah Pearson said at a news conference outside the Brown County courthouse Thursday. “It was more important to salvage the career of a priest with a history of horrific abuse of children than it was to minister to the children of the state and keep children safe.”

St. Norbert Abbey says it’s committed to transparency and encourages anyone with allegations to come forward.

Separately, the abbey has now added two names to the list of clergy with substantiated claims of abuse from decades ago: Arnold Schinkten in 1962 and Benjamin Mackin in the 1980s. Both are now deceased.

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