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Diocese Releases Name of Priest in Abuse Case

By Thomas Geyer
Quad-City Times
August 28, 2004

http://www.qctimes.com/internal.php?story_id=1034061&t=Local+News&c=2,1034061

A Catholic priest who served at parishes in Davenport and Clinton, Iowa, as well as Assumption High School in Davenport was identified Saturday as the subject of an ongoing investigation into a case of sexual misconduct involving a minor.

The Rev. Paul Deyo, who served in the Quad-City region during the 1970s, ’80s and early ’90s, was identified in a news release issued Saturday afternoon by the Diocese of Davenport.

An announcement was made throughout the diocese to parishioners who attended Mass on Saturday. The same announcement will be made at Mass today.

The Rev. William Franklin, the bishop of the Davenport Diocese, ordered that Deyo’s name be released. Officials with the diocese said Tuesday that the allegation against Deyo, who has been a priest for 28 years since being ordained in August 1976, had been determined to be credible. The alleged incident occurred during 1998 in Johnson County, Iowa. Deyo served at Regina High School in Iowa City from 1991 to 2000 while working at several parishes in that area.

“The investigation is still ongoing,” Davenport attorney Rand Wonio, who represents the diocese, told the QUAD-CITY TIMES.

“What the (diocesan) policy is first and foremost designed to do is encourage anybody who has been subjected to misconduct to come forward if they need assistance,” he said. “Naturally, we hope nobody else has been victimized.”

Wonio said the investigation needs to be concluded before the diocese can determine what other action needs to be taken.

The news came as a surprise to former Assumption High School Principal Thomas Sunderbruch, where Deyo was assigned from 1984 to 1991. From 1988 to 1991, Deyo was also an administrator at St. Mary’s in Davenport.

“I knew him well then,” Sunderbruch said, adding that he heard the announcement during Mass on Saturday at Holy Family Church in Davenport. “He was a teacher for me, the athletic director and dean of students.

“The good news is I never had a problem and I never had an allegation,” he said. “He is a very bright man and an excellent teacher.”

Sunderbruch said he is confident that he would have heard if anything inappropriate involving Deyo and a student had occurred during the priest’s tenure at Assumption.

Wonio has said the incident initially was reported to an assistant in the Johnson County Attorney’s office, “even though the man who made the report did not wish any criminal charges to be filed.”

The criminal statute of limitations has not run out on the allegation, which means it could be criminally prosecuted in court.

Johnson County Attorney J. Patrick White has said his office is continuing an informal information-gathering process regarding the alleged incident.

At the time the allegation was made, Deyo was principal of Bishop Heelan High School in Sioux City, Iowa.

Deyo began serving at Bishop Heelan in 2000 and was dean of students for two years. He assumed the role of principal there in the fall of 2002.

According to a statement issued Saturday by the Diocese of Sioux City, there had been no allegations of any sexual misconduct stemming from Deyo’s years in the Davenport Diocese when he was hired at Heelan.

“The Diocese of Sioux City was informed in late May 2003 that an allegation had been made against Rev. Deyo concerning an incident in the Davenport Diocese,” the statement reads. “Soon after, the Diocese of Sioux City was informed by the Diocese of Davenport that Rev. Deyo returned to his home diocese, where the investigation into the allegation had begun.”

According to the statement, neither the Catholic schools of Sioux City nor the Diocese of Sioux City have been made aware of any alleged instance of sexual misconduct during Deyo’s tenure at Heelan.

In its statement, the Davenport Diocese said Deyo is not actively involved in the ministry and is caring for his father in Keokuk.

That it took so long — more than a year — for the Davenport Diocese to release Deyo’s name in connection with an allegation is highly disconcerting and indicative of a church system that remains much too secretive, said David Clohessy, the executive director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, which has its headquarters in Chicago.

“Because the bishop (Franklin) is evidently preoccupied with public relations, he’s given this potentially dangerous man more than a year to destroy evidence, intimidate witnesses and prepare to run from the law,” Clohessy told the Times. “It’s a dangerous and irresponsible course that the bishop has chosen, and I hope Catholics will express their justifiable outrage.

“God help this bishop if, last week, last month or last year, this priest molested another innocent child,” he added.

Thomas Geyer can be contacted at (563) 383-2328 or tgeyer@qctimes.com.

 
 

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