of Accused Davenport Priests
James M. Janssen is pictured at Sts.
Philip and James in Grand Mound, where he was pastor and also diocesan
chaplain of the Boy Scouts. This was his fourteenth parish. His
bishop was warned about him before he was assigned to his first
parish, and allegations came frequently thereafter. Janssen's assignments
and those of other accused priests show where exactly the children
of the diocese have been placed at risk, and when bishops have transferred
offenders into unsuspecting parishes.
Below we summarize the careers
of 13 priests accused of abuse in the Davenport diocese, with
links to detailed records of their assignments. These are only the
priests whose names are known. The diocese has briefly described
the cases of 7other accused priests whose names it is withholding,
and there are certainly other priests as well.
There is evidence that diocesan records of complaints
have not been kept or have been destroyed, and the diocese is resisting
a court order to release all the abuse-related files in its possession.
A full release will allow a more complete accounting of the diocese's
accused priests, and of the knowledge that the diocese had of their alleged
The following descriptions and assignment records are a partial account,
assembled from diocesan records, listings in the Official Catholic
Directory, newspaper reports, and court documents. We have compiled
this information carefully, but the trail is hard to follow and sometimes
seems to be deliberately obscured in church records. Please
email us with corrections and additional information.
Some priests have many accusations, some have only one that is known.
Some have confessed and even served time in prison. Janssen confessed
to Bishop Hayes and then denied all wrongdoing. Please remember that in
the American justice system, a person is presumed innocent until proven
guilty. The diocese's policy of secrecy over the last 50 years will make
such proof difficult to achieve.
Francis E. Bass - Accused of abusing many boys and of sharing
his victims with Revs. Janssen, Geerts, and Murphy. Ordained in 1948
after training at Kenrick Seminary in St. Louis (as were they), Bass
was Director of Vocations for the Davenport diocese and a member of
the Personnel Board for 15 years, and was also dean of the Grinnell
deanery for a year. Bass was active for 44 years at 9 parishes (7
as pastor) and was a chaplain at Ottumwa Heights College. In June
2004, Bishop Franklin asked the Pope to laicize Bass.
Paul A. Deyo - Credibly accused in May 2003 of abusing a boy in
Johnson County in 1998. Deyo was principal of Bishop Heelan High School
in Sioux City when the allegation was made (he had been at the school
for 3 years) and is now on leave. He was ordained in 1976 and worked
in 6 parishes (2 as pastor) and 2 other schools: Assumption High School
in Davenport for 7 years and Regina High School in Iowa City for 9
years. He was also director of Regina Religious Education for 2 years.
Martin J. Diamond - A lawsuit filed in January 2003 accuses Diamond,
ordained in 1930, of abusing a boy between age 8 and 11 at St. Peter's
in Keokuk, now part of All Saints parish. Diamond was pastor of St.
Peter's for 15 years, his second stint at the parish. He also worked
at 6 other parishes (5 as pastor), and early in his career (after
2 years at St. Peter's and at St. Mary's at Montrose), he was a hospital
chaplain and a chaplain in the army during World War II. Diamond died
Theodore Anthony Geerts - Accused of abusing many boys with Bass,
Janssen, and Murphy, who were classmates at Kenrick Seminary and like
Geerts were ordained in 1948. His rectory at St. Boniface in Farmington,
where he was pastor for 9 years, was allegedly a frequent venue for
group sex and the viewing of pornography, of which Geerts maintained
a large collection. Before Farmington he worked for 14 years at St.
Patrick's in Clinton. Geerts was also pastor at churches in String
Prairie, Dodgeville, and Kingston, and also assisted briefly at St.
Bridget's in Las Vegas NV, where he was arrested in 1992. Geerts died
James M. Janssen - Accused of abusing many boys with Bass, Geerts,
and Murphy, and of pimping his victims to Bass, Wiebler, and Murphy.
Janssen allegedly used sacrilege and petty crime to groom his victims,
and sometimes took them out of state to abuse them. Janssen's "stable
of boys" ranged in ages from 5 to 18, and he kept in touch with
some into their adulthood. The diocese was warned about Janssen in
1948 before his first assignment, and he confessed to Bishop Hayes
in 1958. Yet he worked as a priest for 42 years in 14 parishes (1
in the Joliet IL diocese), and was pastor at 4 of them for a total
of 23 years. He was on the Priests' Personnel Board for 13 years,
served a term on the Priests' Senate, and was diocesan chaplain of
the Boy Scouts for 10 years. He was laicized in 2004.
Placidus Kieffer (Benedictine priest) - Accused of abusing a 16-year-old
boy who came to him for help in 1963 at St. John's parish in Burlington.
Kieffer is one of three Benedictine priests from St. Benedict's Abbey
in Atchison KS who have been accused of abuse at St. John's. Kieffer
was ordained in 1932 and worked at St. John's 1962-1969. He was also
pastor for 21 years at 6 Kansas parishes, and taught at a high school
in Atchison KS for 8 years, where he was also the chaplain. Kieffer
died in 1990.
James E. Leu - Pleaded guilty to systematic sexual abuse (1985-89)
of two brothers at St. Mary's parish in Lone Tree, where Leu was pastor.
The boys were altar boys and minors. Leu was sentenced to 2 years
in prison, and since his release is allowed to say private Mass and
is living "a life of prayer and penance," according to the
diocese. Ordained in 1971, Leu worked at 4 other parishes, including
Sacred Heart in Newton when accused priest Francis Bass was pastor.
Frank R. Martinez, Jr. - When Martinez was pastor of Sacred Heart
in Melcher, he was accused of propositioning a 15-year-old boy for
sex in a motel room in 1986. Ordained in 1982, Martinez began his
career at the Davenport cathedral. His next assignment was as pastor
at Sacred Heart in Lost Nation, but he was pulled after less than
two years, and a senior diocesan official was sent to replace him.
After the Melcher complaint went to the police, Martinez was sent
to a chaplaincy, warehoused as a "deacon" in the Rochester
NY diocese, and then listed as on leave and on duty outside the diocese.
In June 2004, Bishop Franklin asked the Pope to laicize Martinez.
James W. Murphy - The Davenport documents contain multiple references
to a "Fr. Murphy" from Tennessee, who allegedly participated
in orgies with Davenport priests and boys at the St. Boniface rectory
in Farmington and other locations. He is also alleged to have abused
two boys at a rectory in Memphis TN in 1963, and to have traveled
to Florida with Janssen and some of Janssen's victims. The only Memphis
priest whose career matches these allegations appears to be James
W. Murphy, trained at Kenrick Seminary with Janssen and Bass and ordained
in the 1948, as they were.
Richard J. Poster - Sentenced in 2004 on a plea bargain to 1 year
in prison for receiving visual depictions of minors engaging in sexually
explicit conduct. In December 2002, diocesan employees had found images
on Poster’s laptop depicting boys or adolescent males engaging
in sex acts and turned the computer over to police. Poster was then
Davenport's director of liturgy, lead member of the liturgical commission,
and associate publisher of the diocesan newspaper, the Catholic
Messenger. He also worked at 6 parishes (1 in the Dubuque diocese
and 3 as pastor), and was a part-time faculty member at St. Ambrose
University in Davenport for the summer and fall of 1996. In June 2004,
Bishop Franklin asked the Pope to laicize Poster.
Donald Redmond (Benedictine priest) - Accused in 2002 of sexual
abuse of boys at St. John's parish in Burlington IA (where he worked
for 15 years, 10 of them as pastor) and at Sts. Peter and Paul in
Seneca KS. In addition to those parishes, Redmond worked at 7 parishes
in Kansas (2 of them twice), and in the 1960s he also worked briefly
as a chaplain at Bishop Lillis High School in Kansas City (in the
Kansas City-St. Joseph diocese) and as a staff member at the Catholic
Student Center at Kansas University in Lawrence KS. Redmond was ordained
Msgr. Drake R. Shafer - Sued by an abuse victim in 2003, vicar
general Shafer asked that the complaint be kept confidential, and
then went public himself to deny the abuse. But then on 3/19/04, it
was revealed in court that Shafer had admitted the abuse in a 4/5/02
email to the victim (DMR 3/20/04). As vicar general, Shafer's responsibilities
had included investigating abuse cases, and even before he was appointed
to that post, he had been given responsibility for monitoring the
behavior of an accused priest. Shafer began his career (unusually)
as pastor of a small parish, and after a year at the American School
in Louvain and a year at another Davenport parish, he worked for 23
years at St. Ambrose University, his alma mater. Shafer began as a
faculty member, then became Vice President of Student Services, and
then Vice President for University Ministry. In 2000 Bishop Franklin
chose Shafer to be vicar general.
Louis A. Telegdy (Stigmatine priest) - Accused of sexual abuse
at St. Francis parish in Mystic IA, where he was pastor (1956-61).
Ordained in 1942, Telegdy lived and worked for 42 years at 14 parishes
in 10 states (9 of them as pastor), and 7 of the parishes had schools.
Late in his career he was chaplain of a Stockton youth training center
in the California prison system for 6 years. Telegdy was finally called
back to the Stigmatine's St. Charles Seminary in Carthagena OH in
1984. He died about 10 years later, perhaps in 1995.
William F. Wiebler - In a May 2002 meeting with Bishop Franklin
and Chancellor Loftus, Wiebler reportedly admitted abusing at least
12 boys, but the diocese waited nearly two years before beginning
the process to laicize him. Ordained in 1955, Wiebler worked in 7
parishes (4 as pastor), and also taught at St. Ambrose Academy (1
year) and Assumption High School (6 years). Wiebler was accused priest
Geerts's successor at St. Boniface in Farmington. In 1985, Wiebler
was pulled from St. Mary of the Visitation in Ottumwa, where he was
pastor, and sent away to northwestern Mississippi, where he was an
editor for Sacred Heart League publications. In a 2004 deposition,
former Vicar General Morrissey confirmed that Bishop O'Keefe "knew
about what happened down in Ottumwa with Father Wiebler." In
1995, Wiebler moved to St. Petersburg FL, where he worked as a cruise
ship chaplain. In 2002 Bishop Franklin ordered Wiebler to the St.
John Vianney Renewal Center in St. Louis, run by the Servants of the
Paraclete. Wiebler left the center in spring 2003 and now lives near
an elementary school in University City MO. Wiebler retired in 2001.
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