Priest Accused of Sexual Abuse While in Mystic

By Dan Ehl
Daily Iowegian [Mystic IA]
March 7, 2005

An apparent settlement was reached between a former member of the Mystic Catholic Church who claimed he was sexually abused by a now-deceased priest and the Diocese of Davenport. The suit was dismissed with prejudice Oct. 14 in the Appanoose Iowa District Court.

Richard Clark of Winterset had filed 10 counts against the Diocese of Davenport in regard to incidents he charged occurred between 1957 and 1959 in the former Mystic church. The church was dissolved in 1999. He accused the late Father Louis Toledy of sexual abuse.

A "Dismissal with Prejudice,"according to its legal definition, is the act of a plaintiff dismissing a lawsuit upon settling the case. Such a dismissal may be dismissal with prejudice, meaning it can never be filed again, or dismissal without prejudice, leaving open the possibility of bringing the suit again if the defendant does not follow through on the terms of the settlement."

Bob Pontious of Clarkdale was an altar boy when Toledy was the priest in Mystic. He said he finds the charges difficult to believe.

"During a portion of the time that Father Toledy served the Catholic church at Mystic, I served as an altar boy in service to the church and its priest, along with other brothers and friends from those days," he said. "I saw nothing indicating any abusive tendencies exhibited by Father Toledy. I have spoken with others who served during the same period after learning of this allegation and they as well saw nothing exhibited that caused them any concerns."

"In approximately 1957," reads the plaintiff's court documents, "when Plaintiff Doe (Clark) was 13 years old, Defendant Toledy, using his position, authority, trust, reverence, and control as a Roman Catholic Priest, engaged in unpermitted, harmful and offensive sexual contact with the person of Plaintiff Doe.

"The sexual abuse of the Plaintiff Doe and the circumstances under which it occurred caused Plaintiff Doe to develop coping mechanisms such that the Plaintiff was unable to remember or to understand or appreciate the abusive nature of Defendant Toledy's conduct.

"As a result, Plaintiff Doe was unable to perceive or know of the existence or nature of his psychological and emotional injuries and their connection to the sexual abuse perpetrated upon him by Defendant Toledy.

"Plaintiff completely blocked these memories from his mind.

"As a direct result of the sexual exploitative and sexual abuse herein, Plaintiff Doe has suffered and will continue to suffer physical and mental pain and suffering, severe and permanent emotional distress, physical manifestations of emotional distress, embarrassment, loss of self-esteem, disgrace, humiliation and psychological injuries; was prevented and will continue to be prevented from performing his normal daily activities and obtaining the full enjoyment of life; has incurred and will continue to incur expenses for medical and psychological treatment, therapy, and counseling; and on information and belief, has incurred and will continue to incur loss of income and loss of earning capacity."

As of press time Friday, Clark and his attorney, Maggi Moss of Des Moines, had not returned phone calls. The spokesperson for the Diocese of Davenport was out of the office Friday.

The 10 counts filed were: Child Abuse and Battery, Breach of Fiduciary Duty, Assault, (two counts) Negligence, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress (directed at all parties), Breach of Fiduciary Duty (directed at the diocese), Negligent Retention and/or Supervision (directed at the diocese), Negligence (directed at the diocese) and Vicarious Liability (directed at the diocese).

In the suit, Clark charged it was the duty of Toledy and the church to obtain professional help to treat the priest's "mental disease or defect."


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.