Guyanese priest faces sex charge in U.S.
LA CROSSE, Wis. – A visiting Catholic priest is expected to be charged next week with sexually assaulting a local woman he was counseling through a divorce.
The 47-year-old woman told investigators the Rev. Edmund Donkor-Baine in August forced her to touch his genitals and grabbed her breast, both through clothing, while the pair talked inside her vehicle in the town of Shelby, according to the La Crosse County Sheriff’s Department report.
Donkor-Baine, 47, was arrested Jan. 25 and will appear Feb. 11 in La Crosse County Circuit Court on a charge of fourth-degree sexual assault. The misdemeanor carries a maximum penalty of nine months in jail.
The Diocese of La Crosse launched an investigation after the woman reported the assault in September, said diocese attorney Jim Birnbaum. Donkor-Baine denied the offense.
“Sufficient evidence did not exist to confirm the woman’s story,” Birnbaum said. “There were no other like or similar allegations ever made.”
The woman told investigators she reported the assault to diocesan administrator Monsignor Richard Gilles, who called her a credible witness, apologized for Donkor-Baine’s behavior and said he needed to notify former La Crosse Bishop Jerome Listecki, the sheriff’s department report stated.
She continued to press Gilles and Birnbaum about how they were handling her complaint, but the men did not respond, according to the report. She last met with Birnbaum on Oct. 8.
“She said that she feels that they are hoping this just goes away,” the report stated.
The diocese disagrees with the woman’s statements, Birnbaum said. He declined to elaborate, citing the diocese’s cooperation in a pending investigation.
“There’s always another side to the story,” he said.
Gilles told sheriff’s investigators he forwarded the woman’s report to Listecki but did not remember speaking to him about the incident, according to the department’s report. Gilles referred investigators to Birnbaum when they asked for a copy of his report.
Donkor-Baine acknowledged to investigators he knew the woman but declined to comment further without an attorney.
Complaints lodged by adults against anyone associated with the diocese are investigated and reported to law enforcement with consent of the victim, Birnbaum said. All complaints of child sexual abuse automatically are turned over to law enforcement, he said.
Donkor-Baine, a Guyana resident, came to the U.S. for medical care, though Birnbaum did not know when. It’s unclear how he met the woman. “He’s not here on any formal program where he could be assigned to a parish,” Birnbaum said.
Donkor-Baine was associate pastor at Blessed Sacrament Parish at 130 Losey Blvd. S. in late 2008.
He also provided ministry services at Franciscan Skemp Healthcare under a contract agreement with the diocese, said medical center spokesman Rick Thiesse.
He occasionally filled in for daily and Sunday masses at Viterbo University between October and January after the death of the campus minister, said university spokesman Pat Kerrigan.
Donkor-Baine has no current assignments. He is not allowed to leave the Diocese Center at 3710 East Ave. S. until his court date as a condition of his $250 signature bond. (www.winonadailynews.com)