Dem guv candidate Flynn fights off charges on priest abuse scandal

Photo by Michelle Stocker, The Capital Times

Women’s March Wisconsin is calling on Dem guv candidate Matt Flynn to drop out of the race because of his past work defending the Milwaukee Archdiocese against priest abuse victims.

But Flynn campaign manager Bryan Kennedy said Flynn’s not leaving the field, telling WisPolitics.com the call amounts to an attempt “to take someone who is a likely frontrunner out of this race, and to attack him for priest sex abuse when he’s the one who actually cleaned up the problem.”

When Flynn, a retired partner with the Quarles & Brady law firm in Milwaukee, first launched his campaign last fall, he fielded hits from the state GOP regarding his work on behalf of the Archdiocese. The GOP labeled Flynn as a “dirty defense attorney” guilty of “putting Wisconsin families at risk.”

The issue was again brought up after The Wisconsin Gazette Thursday published an article quoting victims of clerical abuse who said they were “appalled” by Flynn’s bid.

Then in a statement Sunday, Women’s March Wisconsin said Flynn should bow out of the race.

The group’s call came after Co-Chair Sarah Pearson approached Flynn following a Dem guv debate in Madison last night where she asked him about his “involvement in the coverup and transfer of pedophile priests.” The encounter was filmed live on the group’s Facebook page.

During the conversation, Pearson also pointed to a series of church documents, released in 2014, that the group said show Flynn “directed and knew of secret transfers of dozens of child molesting clergy, many of which went on to abuse more children.”

Flynn during the video declined to comment on the documents, telling Pearson to instead be on the lookout for a campaign statement. He also dismissed in the video the Wisconsin Gazette article as “fundamentally untrue, in many, many respects.”

After a nearly two-minute conversation, Flynn again referred Pearson to the campaign’s upcoming statement, before thanking her and walking away.

Pearson then addressed the camera, saying it’s “highly inappropriate that his candidacy has continued despite the fact that he’s clearly covered up sexual abuse of children and allowed pedophiles to continue working in capacity with children. That’s fundamentally wrong, and we’ll be calling on him to end his candidacy.”

But Flynn in his statement Monday said once he learned of the abuses, he “knew that to be in alignment with my conscience, I had to do something, not merely voice disapproval.”

“In my work almost twenty years ago, I worked with others to put into place procedures to identify and remove abusive priests, notify the authorities, and prevent their transfer,” he said. “It was imperative that we work to create a system that would ensure that crimes such as these could never be committed and allowed to persist.”

While Flynn’s statement claimed it was the first time he had talked publicly about his involvement with the archdiocese, Flynn previously defended his work in an interview with WisPolitics.com in October when he first got into the race.

Flynn then told WisPolitics.com the scandal “pained me more than I can tell you.” Still, he was proud of his work for the archdiocese, saying his efforts and those of others led to an end of the practice of transferring priests accused of abuse to other parishes without warning of past allegations.

See the Women’s March Wisconsin Facebook video:
https://www.facebook.com/womensmarchwi/videos/441254126312039/

See the Women’s March Wisconsin statement:
https://www.wispolitics.com/2018/womens-march-wisconsin-calls-for-matt-flynn-to-drop-out-of-governors-race/

See the documents:
http://www.andersonadvocates.com/Documents/priest_files/Arimond.pdf

See Flynn’s statement:
https://forwardwithflynn.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Flynn_Statement_Archdiocese.pdf

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