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Ex-minister guilty of exposure

Former youth leader in Bay also faces charges in explicit e-mails

By MARIE ROHDE and LISA SINK
of the Journal Sentinel staff
Last Updated: July 25, 2002

A former youth minister for the United Methodist Church of Whitefish Bay pleaded no contest Thursday to a charge that he exposed himself to a 17-year-old boy who spent the night with him at his congregation-owned home last August.

The youth minister, Kurt Danskin, 35, also was charged earlier this week in Waukesha County with disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor, in connection with allegations that he had sent the same boy sexually explicit e-mails sometime before May 2001, according to court records. He is to appear in court Aug. 14 on that charge.

Although the allegations came to light last fall, the youth minister was not fired from the Whitefish Bay church until Feb. 13, when church officials were told that the minister was being investigated by the Waukesha County district attorney's office in connection with he e-mail incident.

The exposure happened Aug. 22 at a church-owned home in the 800 block of E. Glen Ave. in Whitefish Bay. That crime, a misdemeanor, carries a fine of up to $10,000 and nine months in jail. Danskin will be sentenced by Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Jeffrey Conen on Aug. 22.

The pastor of the Whitefish Bay church, Richard Jones, said about 100 children in the seventh- through 12th-grade youth program and their parents met with congregational leadership after Danskin left earlier this year.

"There are no allegations involving any persons at our church," Jones said at that time. "The allegation is from a 17-year-old who was visiting Kurt. He is not a member of our church. He has nothing to do with our church."

Jones said Danskin moved from the home after he was fired in February.

The Whitefish Bay church is the largest United Methodist congregation in the state.

The Waukesha County incident occurred when Danskin worked for Emmanuel Community United Methodist Church in Menomonee Falls, according to the Waukesha County complaint, filed this week. Danskin worked there for six years before moving to the Whitefish Bay church in July 2001.

On Nov. 5, Menomonee Falls police asked the Waukesha County district attorney's office to consider issuing charges against Danskin of exposing a child to harmful materials, said Lt. Jim Konopacki.

The Waukesha County complaint alleges the youth opened the sexually explicit e-mails on computers at Menomonee Falls High School, where he was a student. The youth told authorities that his home computer did not have Internet or e-mail access.

The Rev. Wes Falk, pastor of the Menomonee Falls church, said he contacted police and Bishop Sharon Zimmerman Rader after "inappropriate material" was found after Danskin left the church for Whitefish Bay.

He declined to describe the material.



Appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on July 26, 2002.



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