By Shereen Siewert
A former Wausau Roman Catholic priest convicted of molesting and exposing himself to teenage boys under his care was returned to prison after police allegedly discovered graphic images of children on his computer.
The Rev. Timothy E. Svea was 39 when he was convicted of second-degree sexual assault of a child younger than 16 and several counts of exposing himself to a child. He also pleaded guilty to false imprisonment. Svea, who was suspended of his duties in 2001 by the Institute of Christ the King after allegations surfaced was living in Mosinee when new allegations surfaced.
Svea, now 59, is facing charges of possessing child pornography after a technician reported finding the images on a computer in for repair. With the new charge, filed Dec. 22 in Marathon County Circuit Court but investigated several months prior, prosecutors will seek to place Svea on lifetime supervision due to the serious nature of the crime.
According to an Associated Press report from 2002, the abuse began in 1998 while Svea headed a mission group in Monroe County and continued when the group moved in 1999 to St. Mary ‘s in Wausau. One of the boys told investigators that Svea invited him to his office and showed him photos of naked men. That activity escalated, court records state, as Svea gave weekly massages in which he molested the boy.
The boy said in one incident, he was handcuffed and bound to a bed, according to the AP report.
During a sentencing hearing in 2002 in Marathon County Circuit Court, then-District Attorney Jill Falstad said Svea had shown remorse and cooperated with authorities, but he abused his position as a religious leader.
“Father Svea’s crimes quite simply are reprehensible,” she said, in 2002.
And Svea himself apologized to Circuit Judge Patrick Brady, who has since retired.
“I’ve hurt these young men,” Svea told the judge. “I’ve hurt the church and I’ve offended my god.”
He was sentenced to 18 months in prison.
Now, Svea is back in prison, but will appear at a hearing in Wausau in March. Online court records show Svea awill learn his fate on March 27 during a plea and sentencing hearing on the new charges. Unclear is whether any agreement has been reached with prosecutors.