Pewaukee priest charged with sexually assaulting child

NOW: Pewaukee priest charged with sexually assaulting child

WAUKESHA, Wis. (AP/CBS 58) — A Pewaukee priest has been charged with sexually assaulting a teenage girl.

A criminal complaint filed in Waukesha County charges Charles Hanel with second-degree sexual assault of a child. Hanel is the pastor at Queen of Apostles Church and was placed on administrative leave earlier this year after allegations surfaced that he had inappropriate contact with a minor.

The Waukesha County Sheriff's Department says in December 2017, Hanel grabbed a 13-year-old girl's breast and rested his hand near her privates while they were in a confessional together. 

The complaint says the girl described Father Hanel as "creepy" and "weird" to her parents. 

Hanel's attorney, Jerome Buting, says his client has never, and would never, do what he is accused of in the criminal complaint. Buting says the one-sided complaint is only part of the story and that they look forward to clearing Hanel's name and reputation.

Hanel also denied the accusations in a voluntary interview with detectives. Hanel's lawyer says this is the first complaint against Hanel in his 35 years with the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. 

The Archdiocese said they haven't received any other allegations of assault regarding Hanel. 

No one answered the door at Hanel's home when CBS 58 tried to get a comment from him. 

The 61-year-old Hanel has served as the church's pastor since January 2014. He previously was a priest at St. Gabriel Parish in Hubertus. Hanel will stay on administrative leave as he has been since May when the allegations surfaced. 

In a statement Thursday, the Archdiocese said:

"We continue to cooperate with authorities in this process and now that a charge has been filed, we will await for the justice system to follow its course to a final resolution of the allegation."

Hanel is due in court in October. 

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