The Diocese of La Crosse has barred Monsignor Bernard McGarty from public ministry while it investigates his being fined for disorderly conduct at a massage salon in Wausau, Wis., Thursday.
McGarty, an 89-year-old retired priest, was not arrested but was issued a $250 ticket after he lifted the covering off of his groin during a massage and asked the masseuse to rub his genitals.
The massage therapist refused and left the room, she told Wausau police. McGarty also called her a derogatory name, she told police.
On Monday, the diocese issued a statement saying, in part, “We are saddened to learn of a recent situation involving Msgr. Bernard McGarty. … According to diocesan policy as stated in the pastoral letter On Sexual Misconduct for the Diocese of La Crosse, Msgr. McGarty, from this moment forward, is not to have any public ministry while this current situation is investigated.”
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The letter, which then-Bishop Raymond Burke issued in October 1997, outlines procedures to be taken when church representatives are accused of sexual misconduct, including diocesan investigations of the matter.
McGarty, who could not be reached for comment Monday, had served in several leadership positions in the diocese. He was also a visiting scholar of ecumenical studies at Viterbo University, which announced late Monday night McGarty will not continue in that position or present occasional guest lectures.
The diocesan policy can be found here.