A former Catholic clergyman, Thomas E. Ericksen, 71, who served in the early 1980s as the parish priest in the Village of Winter, will plead no-contest to one count of first degree sexual assault against a child and another second degree sexual assault also against a child. Prior to serving in Winter, Ericksen was a hospital chaplain in the City of Merrill in Lincoln County.

Sawyer County Assistant District Attorney Aaron Marcoux, representing the state, and Public Defender Ryan, representing Ericksen, presented the details of a plea agreement for Ericksen during a status conference Thursday, June 6 at the Sawyer County Circuit Courtroom to Ashland County Circuit Judge Kelly McKnight.

As part of the plea agreement, two other charges — both second-degree sexual assault/unconscious victim — will be dismissed but read in for sentencing.

In addition, Ericksen must provide “factual admission” to two other “uncharged counts” from Lincoln County that will be read in for sentencing.

The first four counts stem from a period when Ericksen served as parish priest in Winter from 1982-1983.

The first-degree charge is for the sexual assault of boy under the age of 12 from June 1, 1982 through April 1, 1983.

The second-degree charge is for the sexual assault of a 14-year-old boy on Sept. 17, 1982.

One of the second-degree felony charges that was dismissed concerns an unconscious teenage boy who had consumed alcohol on Feb. 4, 1983. The second dismissed charge concerns an unconscious victim in Winter in November 1982.

Two other men have also alleged Ericksen inappropriately fondled them in 1982 while they were under the age of 12 and patients at Holy Cross Hospital in Merrill.

McKnight told Marcoux he would require a written plea statement for the uncharged offenses from Merrill.

A plea hearing is scheduled for 1 p.m. Tuesday, June 11 in Hayward.

A tentative sentencing hearing was set for 1:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 30.

Concerning the upcoming August sentencing hearing, Marcoux said, he anticipates victim witness statements to be made in person or read in at court regarding the charges from Winter and the uncharged offenses from Merrill.

Erickson, who is currently in jail on $500,000 cash bond, was in the courtroom, confined with handcuffs and ankle chains. He was escorted back to jail after the proceedings.

Ericksen started priesthood in 1973 with the Superior diocese, and served at St. Joseph’s Church in Rice Lake. He also served at St. Mary’s Church in Bruce in 1974 and 1975. He was stationed at six other churches before coming to St. Peter’s in Winter in 1982. 

(Copyright © 2019 APG Media)

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