Accused Priests' Names Disclosed
Recent Abuse Claims Identify Two Deceased Members of the Clergy Who Had Ministered in the Davenport Diocese
By Shirley Ragsdale
Des Moines Register [Davenport IA]
July 26, 2005
The names of two deceased priests that the Davenport Catholic Diocese refused to disclose have been made public by men who recently submitted claims of child sexual abuse against the diocese.
The Rev. Herman Bongers, a diocesan priest, and the Rev. Raymond C. Kalter, a priest of the Redemptorist order, may be among the 25 priests the Davenport Diocese has reported as having credible reports of abuse against them, according to the claimants' attorney.
The Davenport Diocese has been forthcoming about the number of abuse allegations it has received and has released the names of living priests with credible allegations of abuse against them. However, it has been Bishop William Franklin's policy not to name deceased priests because the men cannot defend themselves against the charges and because diocesan officials who could confirm or deny the reports are also dead.
The disclosure came from Craig Levien, a Davenport attorney who in October negotiated a $9 million settlement for 37 clients against the Davenport Diocese. Levien last week submitted six new claims of sexual abuse by clergy to the diocese for mediation. They include allegations from
• A man who says Bongers sexually abused him in 1966 when the priest was assigned to St. Vincent's orphanage. The Davenport orphanage closed in 1969. The facility is now the diocesan headquarters. Bongers died in 1971.
• A man who says Kalter abused him in 1959 when the priest was serving at St. Alphonsus Church in Davenport. At the time, the Redemptorist order owned and operated the church. Kalter died in 1977.
• Two men who say they were molested in the mid-1970s by the Rev. William Wiebler, an admitted child abuser who left a Catholic treatment center and now lives in a St. Louis suburb not far from a school and child care center.
• A man who says he was sexually abused in the early 1950s by the Rev. Francis Bass, a diocesan priest who recently settled three similar claims of abuse.
• A man who says he was sexually assaulted in the mid-1970s by former priest James Janssen, who was defrocked by the Vatican in 2004 and who in May lost a $1.9 million jury verdict.
"I thought it was important for people to know the names of these priests," Levien said. "They should also know that men are still coming forward and that we're pursuing mediation."
Rand Wonio, attorney for the diocese, said mediation is in the early fact-finding stages. "We're ordering the claimants' medical records, and once we have and review those, we will move to the investigative process," he said.