A 94-year-old retired La Crosse priest will appear in court June 3 after accusations of sexual assault.

Bernard McGarty


Msgr. Bernard McGarty of La Crosse was arrested on charges of fourth-degree sexual assault and released on a signature bond, according to the police report.

According to the incident report:

On May 15, the victim told La Crosse Public Library security about an incident that took place on May 11. She said it happened at one of the benches behind the library about 5 p.m.

On May 16, library security reported the incident to La Crosse police.

The victim told police the man said his name was Bill and offered her money for sex. He also took her hand and put it on his genitals, and tried to kiss her.

Library staff was able to identify McGarty from security footage because they recognized him from the news.

In 2014, McGarty was fined for disorderly conduct in Wausau, Wis., for exposing himself during a massage and asked the masseuse to rub his genitals.

Video surveillance showed McGarty sitting with the victim on the bench. McGarty handed her something, later discovered to be $20, and then pulled her hand onto his lap.

Police located McGarty at his residence for questioning.

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McGarty said he had a brief conversation with the victim but nothing else happened.

McGarty said he gave her $20 because she was homeless and denied any physical contact with her.

Police told him a surveillance video revealed there was physical contact and asked McGarty why he put the victim’s hand on his genitals.

McGarty continued denying doing so.

Police arrested McGarty on charges of fourth-degree sexual assault and issued McGarty a signature bond.

Jack Felsheim, director of communications and public relations from the Diocese of La Crosse, issued a statement:

“On May 16, 2019, the Diocese of La Crosse learned of a recent situation at the La Crosse Public Library involving Msgr. Bernard McGarty, 94, a retired priest of the Diocese of La Crosse. According to diocesan policy Msgr. McGarty, from this moment forward, is on a leave of absence from public ministry while this current situation is being investigated. Due to this being an ongoing investigation, the Diocese of La Crosse has no further comment at this time.”

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(11) comments


He's probably had one or more stroke to be acting this way. He needs some medical and personal oversight.


Ah look at all the lonely people
Ah look at all the lonely people

Eleanor Rigby, picks up the rice
In the church where a wedding has been
Lives in a dream
Waits at the window, wearing the face
That she keeps in a jar by the door
Who is it for

All the lonely people
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people
Where do they all belong?

Father McGarty, writing the words
Of a sermon that no one will hear
No one comes near
Look at him working, darning his socks
In the night when there's nobody there
What does he care

All the lonely people
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people
Where do they all belong?

Ah look at all the lonely people
Ah look at all the lonely people

Eleanor Rigby, died in the church
And was buried along with her name
Nobody came
Father McGarty, wiping the dirt
From his hands as he walks from the grave
No one was saved

All the lonely people
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people
Where do they all belong?


He should have taken a page out of Jimmy Swaggert's play book and started seeing hookers.


This is not his first time being caught, how many times did he get away with the behavior because of his position.


Leave the poor guy alone. Or, Catholic Church, get him some help, and/or supervision.


Leave him alone??? Absolutely not. Lock him up.

Rick Czeczok

At 94 what is his his mindset? Maybe let the doctors and the courts do the deciding. I'm not defending him or his actions, but is he really responsible? I don't know, do you, if so please print it. Otherwise you are judging, and that is not yours or mine to do.


Leave it to Comrade Zerocock to come down on the side of an accused sexual assailant because of his age and religious position. Shameful!


His mindset, Rick, was to go to the public library (where kids and families are known to congregate) and offer a woman money to grab his donkey. Odd choice of a last sentence on your part as you spend 90% of your time posting judgmental drivel here.


You are an interesting fella for sure. If he isn't responsible then who is?


Yes, madmen, I'm sure you'd be advocating letting a sexual predator free if he was attacking your sister or daughter. This creep belongs in jail.

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