Green Bay ex-priest sent to jail for having unapproved contact with children

Published: Feb. 28, 2019 at 9:29 AM CST
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A former Green Bay priest who was convicted of exposing his genitals to a child has been sent to jail for violating probation.

Documents obtained by Action 2 News detail recent allegations against Richard Thomas, 81.

Once of the documents is a letter sent by the Department of Corrections to Judge Timothy A. Hinkfuss. The letter states that Thomas had violated rules of supervision by having unapproved verbal and physical contact with children.

In 2016, Thomas was sentenced to 36 months on supervision after he was found guilty of two counts of Exposing Genitals/Pubic Area/Intimate Parts to a Child. Thomas had exposed himself to a teenager while living at Grellinger Hall, a residence for retired priests.

Conditions of probation include lifetime registry on the Wisconsin Sex Offender list and no contact with minors unless approved by a parole agent.

Thomas has been living in the community since Feb. 24, 2017. In the letter to Judge Hinkfuss, the Wisconsin Department of Corrections says it was reported that Thomas had been "intentionally seeking out minors" at Green Bay's Bay Motel and Family Restaurant to "engage them in conversation."

Thomas was asking the children about where they go to school and what grade they are in. He reportedly asked one child what city he lived in.

The DOC says Thomas admitted to having physical contact with a boy, "placing his hand on this minor's shoulder making him feel uncomfortable."

Thomas also admitted to telling an underage girl that he thought she was attractive "and if he was her age he would date her."

In the letter to Judge Hinkfuss, the DOC states that the violations do not rise to a level of revocation, but asked the court sentence Thomas to an additional eight months jail time.

On Feb. 25, Hinkfuss signed an order imposing an additional eight months of jail time for Thomas. He's in custody at the Brown County Jail.

The DOC letter also notes a previous violation in which Thomas had contact with a minor at Tundra Lodge Resort.

Last November, Thomas was denied his request to relocate to a new home in Green Bay. A citizen board listened as Thomas cited his two-and-a-half years in therapy for the crimes he committed, hoping the board would grant him the move.

Thomas told the board, “My therapist said, you know, ‘I really believe now, you are not a danger, you are not a threat to anybody.’”

Thomas was one of the names released by the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay of clergy members with "substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of a minor."

The Diocese says Thomas was laicized--or removed from clerical state--in 2018.