Bishops' Archives and Survivors' Accounts

Davenport is the only U.S. diocese where diocesan abuse files can be read together with detailed accounts written later by the survivors themselves. These documents from the Wells and John Doe III suits, available only here on the Internet, offer a unique combined perspective on a network of abusers, the lives of their victims, and bishops' decisions to ignore repeated warnings.

Some of these documents are eloquent and touching. Some include descriptions of terrible abuse. Please be aware of the nature of this content before you view it. If you are a survivor, you may be interested in reading a brief note from fellow survivors before you begin.

Note: Davenport diocesan documents are marked with a red *, and later victims' accounts with a green *. Judge Pelton has ordered the release of all diocesan abuse documents, and the diocese is fighting that outcome. We have also gathered other guides to the documents.

* Kenrick Seminary Rector: Janssen should be put with an understanding pastor (quoted in para. 3)
Kenrick Seminary Director of Students: Janssen's duplicity and the need to supervise him

- A 1955 letter from Chancellor Dingman indicates that the police and Janssen's pastor at St. Joseph's in Burlington were concerned about Janssen's activities at the Burlington YMCA

* Boy from St. Vincent's Orphanage, Davenport: Janssen abused him and other boys at the St. Ambrose pool through 1955. Janssen has denied abusing minors or having power over them.

* Altar boy from St. Irenaeus, Clinton: Janssen abused him and other boys at Lock & Dam 13
* YMCA official: Janssen was moved from St. Irenaeus in Clinton for "homosexual tendencies"
* Vice-Chancellor Dingman: Janssen at St. Joseph in East Pleasant Plain had "primary interest" in youth
* Bishop Hayes: Pep talk to Janssen and practical advice regarding "matter of swimming"
* James Wells: Janssen first abused 5-year-old Wells on Thanksgiving Day during priest's leave (para. 1)
* YMCA official: Janssen, now at Sacred Heart in Newton, was barred from the Newton YMCA for "very improper activity" with two boys

* James Wells: Janssen abused Boy Scouts in Tennessee and Illinois (para. 4 & 5)
* Bishop Hayes: Janssen "solicited to acts of impurity" a St. Ambrose Academy student

* Altar boy at Sacred Heart in Newton: Janssen abused the boy at age 12 or 13 in a movie theatre; victim believes that the complaints of four families got Janssen moved
* Chancellor Dingman to Bishop Hayes: Police wrote about "morals charge" regarding visits to Newton YMCA by Janssen, while he was at Sacred Heart in Newton
* Janssen's pastor McCann at Sacred Heart to Bishop Hayes: "There have been some rumors"

* Bishop Hayes: Notes on Janssen problems including YMCA letters written in 1959 regarding Janssen's earlier activities in Clinton and Newton
* Bishop Hayes to Janssen: Leave of absence granted, "leave the diocese immediately"

* Loyola psychiatrist to Bishop Hayes: Janssen "definitely will need psychotherapy"
* Loyola psychologist Stewart to Bishop Hayes: Janssen needs spiritual director to become acceptable pastor
* Altar boy at St. Joseph's in Davenport: Boy was abused 1957-59 by Bass, assistant at St. Joseph's, and by Janssen, who was on leave, and then was at St. Isaac Joques in Hinsdale IL, at New Melleray for counseling, at St. Patrick's in Delmar, and at St. Mary's in Davenport

* Loyola psychologist Stewart to Bishop Hayes: Were you able to find Janssen a spiritual director?
Bishop Hayes to Stewart: No, Janssen is alone at St. Michael's in Holbrook; he didn't follow his last pastor's advice
* Boy at St. Isaac Jogues in Hindsale IL: Janssen abused him in Hinsdale IL and in Holbrook and Davenport IA, sometimes with Bass and Murphy
* Janssen to boy in Hinsdale IL: Sexual letter mentioning Bass and plans to drive up and "see you soon"
* Hinsdale boy to Janssen: Sexually explicit letter
* Hinsdale pastor Henehan to Bishop Hayes: Enclosing previous two letters, discovered by boy's mother
* Bishop Hayes to Henehan: Will confront Janssen;"it is consoling to know that no notoriety has arisen"

Rev. Francis E. Bass was appointed Director of Vocations, an office he would hold for nearly 15 years (10/2/58-8/20/73)

* Bishop Hayes and Chancellor Dingman to Janssen: Letter of indefinite suspension. Janssen has denied ever being suspended.
* Chancellor Dingman, countersigned by Bishop Hayes: Oath to "maintain secrecy" about Janssen suspension
* Bishop Hayes: Notes on suspension talk with Jannsen, who "confessed his guilt." Janssen denied that he and the diocese had received complaints, and also denied admitting sexual misconduct to anyone.
* Janssen, Hayes, and Abbot O'Connor of New Melleray: Diocese summarizes and quotes letters ending Janssen's "counseling" at New Melleray (p. 3, para. 2)

* Bishop Hayes: Janssen assigned to St. Patrick's in Delmar with restrictions
* Bishop Hayes: Janssen, now at St. Mary's in Davenport, admits that he's picking up boys for swimming and drive-ins, and Hayes has warned him not to
* Chancellor Dingman to Bishop Hayes: Janssen was seen molesting a boy outside St. Mary's
* Diocesan notes: "Charges made" against Janssen

* Boy visiting Bettendorf for the summer: Janssen abused this 14-year-old boy at a cabin on the Mississippi
* Mother's report to diocese: Mother reports "imprudent priestly conduct" and expresses concern about Janssen's influence on her boys (summary by diocese, p. 3, para. 4)
* Chancellor Dingman to Bishop Hayes: "Some mother" is in tears about son's relationship with Janssen
Bishop Hayes: Hayes notes Janssen's denials and his own doubts about those denials, and reports that he gave Janssen a written warning
* Bishop Hayes to Janssen: Letter of warning
* Bishop Hayes: Eight-point list of two mother's complaints about Janssen's relationships with their sons
* Bishop Hayes: Notes on Janssen's admissions and denials

* Chancellor Dingman to Bishop Hayes: Janssen's pastor at St. Mary's in Davenport worries that a mother will bring the police in, but also notes that Janssen has the boys "intimidated"
* Altar boy at St. Joseph's in Fort Madison: Boy and eight others were abused by Janssen from 1961 to 1965, sometimes with Bass, Geerts, and Murphy; places included the Burlington YMCA pool, two cabins on the Mississippi, and the St. Boniface rectory in Farmington

James Wells: Janssen abused Wells and another boy during a trip to Daytona Beach FL; Janssen also offered his nephew Wells to Murphy, but Wells refused. (paras. 20-21) Janssen recalls a trip to visit his brother and his wife in FL, but doesn't recall any other places where he stayed overnight.

* Boy at St. Joseph's in Fort Madison: After abuse that started in 1961, Janssen took the boy to the pool at St. Ambrose College and orally raped him; on a trip to Daytona Beach FL that summer, Janssen pimped the boy, it would appear to Rev. James W. Murphy in the St. Anthony of Padua rectory in Memphis; in 1964, Janssen pimped the boy to Rev. Francis E. Bass, who had the boy masturbate him and then took pictures of the boy naked

* Troubled boy at St. Joseph's in Davenport, ordered by a judge to go to Mass: After grooming and abuse that began in 1957, Bass abused the boy after confession during a group trip to Chicago, during which Bass showed the boys dead bodies at the morgue; the boy reported the abuse to Janssen at St. Mary's in Davenport, who said the boy's "suspicions were not correct"
Altar boy at St. Joseph's in Fort Madison: Janssen abused the boy 1964-67, continuing at the St. Joseph rectory in Sugar Creek; Bass and Geerts abused him also

Bishop Gerald F. O'Keefe was apponted ordinary on October 20, 1966, with the retirement of Bishop Ralph L. Hayes.

* Ten-year-old boy at St. Joseph's in Sugar Creek: Janssen began abuse that would continue for at least six years and include forced mutual masturbation and forced oral sex in the rectories at St. Joseph's and at St. Anthony's in Davenport
* Twelve-year-old boy at St. Joseph's in Sugar Creek: After two years of grooming, Janssen and Bass began abusing the boy at the St. Joseph's rectory in Sugar Creek and in 1973-74 at Bass's rectory Sacred Heart in Newton; Janssen also abused the boy at the YMCA pool in Clinton and on about five trips to Florida

* Geerts to Bishop O'Keefe: Geerts has applied to be pastor of Sacred Heart in Lost Nation, but would rather be a team with Janssen, already at St. Joseph's in Sugar Creek; O'Keefe has suggested that the team might also take care of Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Charlotte, along with its mission St. Patrick's in Villa Nova, as well as Immaculate Conception in Petersville

* Bishop O'Keefe to Bishop Maher of San Diego: Geerts is on leave of absence [reason not specified] and has been in Spring Valley CA for some months, engaged in an excavating contracting business with his brother; "I do not think he will cause any problem.... He, of course, does not function as a priest and would not attempt to do so."

* A student at St. Ambrose College: Sexually attacked by Rev. William Wiebler, whom Janssen had sent to the boy, saying that the boy "would not mind"; Janssen had himself abused the boy since about 1963, when the boy was eleven or twelve and a student at St. Joseph's parish school in Fort Madison

* Bass victim who had been abused in 1964: Reported the abuse to a representative of the diocese; "the person was not interested" (page 3, para. 2)

* Report of meeting: Parishioners from St. Mary's in Bryant met with the diocese about Janssen's Masses, handling of money, and teaching kids to be dishonest (see p. 4, para. 4)

* Donald Green, an altar boy at Sts. Philip and James in Grand Mound: Janssen, now pastor of the parish and diocesan chaplain of the Boy Scouts, began to abuse Green when the boy was a minor

* Bobbi R. Martin: Martin and two other parishioners from Sts. Philip and James in Grand Mound met with Vicar General Morrissey to complain that their pastor Janssen had been arrested for shoplifting in Clinton and was showing boys pornographic videos; Morrissey didn't seem interested and nothing was done

* James Wells to Janssen: Letter confronting Janssen
* Janssen's Attorney to Wells: Denial by priest and threat to sue accuser

* Margie Wells to Vicar General Morrissey: After James Wells's visit to Morrissey, his mother requests that Morrissey send her son "the results of the investigation"
* Vicar General Morrissey to Janssen: After hearing James Wells' "life story" and "direct allegations," suggestion that Janssen "resign from the Priests Personnel Board"
* Vicar General Morrissey to James Wells: "Not really sure of what investigation I will make, though I will make a follow-up and report that to you"
* James Wells to Vicar General Morrissey: Wells enclosed Janssen's threat to sue, and said he hoped an investigation would "bear pressure on my uncle to accept his responsibility"

* Rev. McAleer to Bishop O'Keefe: Fifteen-point letter detailing "the accusations toward Fr. Janssen." This letter was in an envelope marked "Strictly Confidential - Bishop's Eyes Only." McAleer's admission that he allowed Janssen to stay overnight in the rectory and sleep with a boy is contradicted by Janssen's denial.
* Bishop O'Keefe to Janssen: Accepting Janssen's resignation as Boy Scout chaplain, granting him indefinite leave for health reasons, restricting his ministry, arranging his pension

* Bishop O'Keefe to Geerts: Permission to function as a priest without restriction at St. Bridget's in Las Vegas, after Janssen gave Geerts's request to O'Keefe

* Vicar General Morrissey to Bishop O'Keefe: Morrissey received a phone call alleging abuse by Bass in 1964; Morrissey recommends that they take no action and seal his memo in Bass's file, but says "If something else comes up, I don't think that we can deny this telephone call." This same phone call is also described by the victim himself. (p. 3, para. 3)
Rev. James L. Swenson to Geerts: Bishop Walsh has asked Swenson to stop having Geerts concelebrate Mass; Geerts's arrest; property in his apartment that he should get rid of; Swenson's fear of scandal
* Bishop Walsh to Bishop O'Keefe: Enclosing the previous letter for O'Keefe's files, Walsh speculates that "this woman" might have gotten Geerts "in difficulty with the law"

Bishop William E. Franklin was appointed ordinary on November 12, 1993, with the retirement of Bishop Gerald F. O'Keefe.

* Vicar General Morrissey to Janssen: Stop working at Genesis Medical Center and with a particular boy there whose "mother has been warned about you"; "withdraw from any kind of public ministry," including "coverage for Father Dan Mannhardt"
* Vicar General Morrissey to active diocesan priests: "Father Janssen is not available for fill-in or substitute work nor assisting you in other duties"

* Bishop Franklin to Janssen: Permits Janssen to say private Mass, participate in clergy gatherings (including the Chrism Mass), concelebrate at priests' funerals, say funeral Mass for immediate relatives, and present "special occasion requests" to Father Drake Shafer [at the time VP of University Ministry at St. Ambrose University and future vicar general, now accused of abuse and suspended]

* Article by Lee Nelson in the Quad-City Times, clipped and saved in the diocesan files: Janssen is lifeguarding and teaching water aerobics at the Davenport Outing Club pool and the Scott County Family Y in Davenport; swimming was a passion for Janssen when he was a scout leader, and he was a lifeguard at the pool in Newton in 1954
* Bishop Franklin and Vice-Chancellor Wolf: Vicar General Shafer will execute this precept: Janssen is to keep away from minors and all employment that brings him near them; "scandal has arisen"

* Bass victim who had been abused in 1964: Reported the abuse again to someone at the diocese and yet again (to Shafer) a year later, but was not notified about follow-up (page 3, paras. 4-5)

* Diocesan court filing: How Chancellor Loftus discovered the diocese's secret archive

* Gavin audit commissioned by the USCCB: Auditors were not able to audit the Davenport diocese [the diocese had insisted that a lawyer be present at all audit interviews]
* Bishop Franklin: Report on the diocese's John Jay investigations and other action, and a history of abuse in the diocese

Other Guides to the Davenport Documents

*Supplemental Answer to Interrogatory 11 - The Davenport diocese's own list of the allegations. Partial and redacted, but still an important document.
* Janssen's Denials - Terse court filings that deny all allegations relating to the Wells case {1} {2} {3} {4} {5} {6}and the John Doe III case {1} {2} {3} {4} {5} {6}.
* Statement of Disputed Facts by James N. Wells - Contains a list of diocesan documents and affidavits, organized according to Janssen's assignment record.
* Statement of Disputed Facts by John Doe III - Contains a list of diocesan documents and affidavits, organized according to Janssen's assignment record.
* Des Moines Register Timeline - Summaries and quotations from the diocesan documents (but not the victims' affidavits) with links to the documents added for your convenience by
* Affidavit of Fr. Thomas Doyle - A study of the diocesan documents (with links to them) that focuses on diocesan secrecy and canon law (with links to some diocesan documents and excerpts from the Code of Canon Law.
* Franklin Report - The bishop's own 2/25/04 historical account of abuse in the diocese. We provide it in the original PDF and as an HTML file, linked to some documents and with errors corrected.

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