Monsignor Bernard McGarty was convicted of disorderly conduct this week but denies the underlying allegations of indecent conduct with a massage therapist.
“I totally deny (it),” McGarty said Thursday.
The 89-year-old retired priest pleaded no contest Monday in Wausau Municipal Court and paid a $250 fine for the non-criminal citation.
McGarty was not arrested but was issued a $250 ticket for lifting the covering off of his groin during a massage and asking 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.
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“I categorically deny saying anything inappropriate to the masseuse,” McGarty said. “The statement by the policeman is a total fabrication and it is the biggest piece of fiction since ‘Gone With the Wind.’”
McGarty said he entered the no contest plea — in which he denies guilt but concedes he would likely be convicted — “because it’s a minor violation ... and I just want to move forward.”
The Diocese of La Crosse barred McGarty from public ministry after news of his citation. In a statement, a spokesman said now that the civil charges have been resolved, the diocese will begin its investigation in accordance with its sexual misconduct procedures. McGarty will remain barred from public ministry during the investigation.
McGarty has served in several leadership positions in the diocese. He was also a visiting scholar of ecumenical studies at Viterbo University, which severed ties with him after the incident.