Documentary dives into systemic clergy abuse in southeast Wisconsin

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) — Peter Isley of Nate’s Mission has been outspoken about his experience being a survivor of clergy abuse. For years he’s been fighting for justice, and now he’s part of the documentary called ‘Manufacturing the Clerical Predator’ with hopes of finding a solution to clergy abuse.

“it’s trying to answer this question that’s never really been answered which is why? How has this gone on for so long, how does this keep reproducing itself,” said Isley.

Isley was only 13 years old when he was abused by a faith leader at a minor seminary. He said thousands in the state have a similar story.

The documentary is directed by Sarah Pearson, who is also a part of Nate’s Mission. Both Isley and Pearson said the film dives into what they call a systemic problem in the clergy.

“it’s not an accident or a case of a few bad apples but there’s something about the way the church operates about the culture within the church and the way they train their seminarians literally reproduces sexual violence towards children intergenerationally,” said Pearson.

In the hour-long documentary you hear from a former priest who was a victim of child abuse, a canon lawyer who was also a former priest, and a former seminarian who left due to the culture of sexual abuse within the clergy.

“We’re just hoping that this film is instructive and educational in a way that helps us formulate better solutions to combat clergy sexual abuse,” said Pearson.

In 2021, Attorney General Josh Kaul launched a statewide clergy abuse investigation without the cooperation of the Milwaukee Archdiocese. As a result, two faith leaders have been criminally charged. Isley said more has to be done and he’ll continue to fight for that justice.

“It doesn’t matter who you are or where you came from, I don’t care. We want to stop the next sexual assault,” said Isley.

The film will premiere at the Oriental Theater at 3 p.m. on Sunday, March 19. The film will be available on YouTube.

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