Retired 94 year old La Crosse priest on leave of absence after charged with sexual assault

Monsignor Bernard McGarty with the Diocese of La Crosse is charged with fourth degree sexual assault.

According to the criminal complaint, a woman reported that the 94-year-old priest approached her on a bench behind the Main Library on Saturday, May 11th.

The report also states that the victim accuses McGarty of offering her money for sex, trying to kiss her and taking her hand and putting it on his genitals.

An employee of the library was able to find the surveillance video of that day, which appears to corroborate the woman's story.

The Diocese says:

"On May 16, 2019, the Diocese of La Crosse learned of a recent situation at the La Crosse Public Library involving Msgr. Bernard McGarty, 94, a retired priest of the Diocese of La Crosse. According to diocesan policy Msgr. McGarty, from this moment forward, is on a leave of absence from public ministry while this current situation is being investigated. Due to this being an ongoing investigation, the Diocese of La Crosse has no further comment at this time."

This same priest was charged in a similar incident in 2014.

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