Most-Sued in Iowa
By Shirley Ragsdale
The Davenport Diocese has become the most-sued diocese in the state on the issue of priest abuse. The financial effect on the diocese because of the lawsuits is hard to estimate, although one expert doubted it would mean Catholics in the diocese will have to tithe more.
The lawsuit filed Oct. 28 by a Scott County man, identified as John Doe III, names the Reverends James Janssen, Francis Bass and Theodore Anthony Geerts as his abusers. It is the fourth lawsuit naming Janssen, the second naming Bass and the first against Geerts.
The Davenport Diocese acknowledged the lawsuit Thursday, noting that the abuse took place 30 years ago and that the three priests do not have any diocesan duties.
"The diocese is reviewing the complaint," said David Montgomery, a Catholic deacon and diocese spokesman. "It would not be appropriate to discuss this matter while it is in litigation."
Dozens of multimillion-dollar sexual abuse lawsuits are being settled by Catholic dioceses across the nation. The potential liability for dioceses varies, according to experts.
"It depends on the insurance, the severity of the abuse, and the nature of the cases," said Patrick Schiltz, a law professor at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis. "If the cases go to trial, they become morality plays. If mistakes were made by the church, there is a difference in how juries treat the bishops who made the mistakes and the bishop who is two or three bishops removed from the mistakes."
However, it is unlikely that the mission of the church, local parishes or Catholic individuals will suffer if the diocese settles the cases or is found at fault in court, according to Roderick MacLeish Jr., a Boston attorney. MacLeish has collected more than $100 million in compensation for his clients in sexual abuse lawsuits over the past 11 years.
"Parishioners have little worry about the money they put in the collection plate going in the pocket of some avaricious plaintiff's lawyer like me," MacLeish said. "But if the people knew the horror these victims endured, they would be more than happy to make a personal contribution." How badly the diocese itself would be hit depends on how substantial its insurance coverage was at the time the alleged abuse took place.
"And when it comes to paying settlements, philanthropic individuals or organizations often step forward," MacLeish said. "Fraternal organizations raise money. No diocese have ever filed for bankruptcy." The most recent lawsuit alleges that the abuse began in 1964 when Janssen was pastor at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Fort Madison and the plaintiff was under 14.
The lawsuit provides a graphic description of the abuse allegedly suffered by the victim in repeated sexual assaults and group sex with the priests and other boys.
Sexual abuse with Janssen allegedly took place in the priest's office and the gym locker room at St. Joseph School in Fort Madison. Abuse inflicted by Bass allegedly took place in a cabin somewhere on the Mississippi River.
Additionally, the lawsuit alleges Geerts molested the boy and provided alcohol to him and showed him pornographic movies and magazines that were stored in a locked double-door cabinet in the St. Boniface Church rectory in Farmington.
According to the lawsuit, the three priests participated and witnessed
the improper sexual activities "while in the presence of each other."
Any original material on these pages is copyright © BishopAccountability.org 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.
money guide of hospital products guide of international market guide of repair roof before winter guide of website income guide of secure your business guide of face makeup tools guide of jewellery arts guide of tv shows guide of best places on earth guide of job plans guide of cheap cars guide of creating products guide of women tools guide of eat less guide of car insurance process guide of sport stuff guide of garden home guide of cheap insurances guide of electronic tech guide of healthy feeding guide of what is next in fashion guide of improve company guide of tactical insurance guide of make money at home guide of development in business guide of dept loan guide of cooking secrets guide of correct companies guide of jobs with more income guide of reviews o general products guide of improving technology guide of ideal job guide of business sectors guide of dept problem guide of unlimited business guide of suitable insurance company guide of money cars guide of how to market guide of heatlhy diet tips guide of decoration tipse guide of security problems money guide of hospital products guide of international market guide of repair roof before winter guide of website income guide of secure your business guide of face makeup tools guide of jewellery arts guide of tv shows guide of best places on earth guide of job plans guide of cheap cars guide of creating products guide of women tools guide of eat less guide of car insurance process guide of sport stuff guide of garden home guide of cheap insurances guide of electronic tech guide of healthy feeding guide of what is next in fashion guide of improve company guide of tactical insurance guide of make money at home guide of development in business guide of dept