Diocese Places Priest on Administrative Leave after Allegations
September 3, 2007
The Rev. Gerald Stouvenel has been placed on administrative leave by the Davenport diocese pending an investigation of complaints from four people that the priest sexually molested them as minors more than 30 years ago.
Martin J. Amos, bishop of the Davenport diocese, made the decision public on Sunday. The leave is retroactive to July 27. In addition to an internal investigation, the complaints have been forwarded to the Scott County Attorney's office,
Amos said the allegations surfaced during the diocese's bankruptcy claimant process.
"According to the diocese of Davenport policies relating to sexuality and personal behavior, I have placed Father Stouvenel on administrative leave effective July 27th while a full investigation is being done regarding the credibility of the allegations," Amos said in a statement. "The Diocese of Davenport has forwarded these reports to the Scott County Attorney, as required by the memorandum of understanding."
He added, "Please continue to pray for all people who have been abused and for the people affected by abuse."
Since June 29, Stouvenel has been pastor of SS. Mary and Joseph and Sacred Heart churches in Fort Madison and St. Joseph Church in Montrose.
The Rev. Troy Richmond will take over Stouvenel's duties as temporary pastor during the investigation, Richmond said during a phone interview Sunday. Richmond has served as parochial vicar for the congregations since July 2006.
Richmond echoed Amos' call for prayer and said his new role would be a change for the congregation, but declined further comment
"I ask all to join me in praying for Father Gerry Stouvenel, all victims of sexual abuse, for our Catholic parishes at this difficult time and for the Diocese of Davenport for God's gift of healing and peace," Richmond said.
For 13 years before being transferred to the Lee County parishes, Stouvenel was pastor at SS. Mary and Patrick Catholic Church in West Burlington.
Stouvenel had been dean of the Keokuk Deanery since 2005.
At various times, Stouvenel, who was ordained in 1972, has served churches in West Point, St. Paul and Dodgeville. He also has served churches and schools in Davenport and Camanche.
The Davenport diocese declared bankruptcy nearly a year ago to protect itself from sexual abuse claims that had cost it $10.5 million since 2004. At the time, it was the nation's fourth diocese to seek court protection against claims that church leaders either knew or should have known about priests' misconduct, yet they failed to discipline them appropriately.
The decision to file for bankruptcy, made by Amos' predecessor, William Franklin, was made as the diocese was confronted with a new set of claims.
Just last week, a bankruptcy judge gave the diocese more time, until Oct. 1, to file its reorganization plan.
The original deadline was Aug. 15.
The diocese and a committee of creditors requested extension. No objections were filed.
The reorganization plan will detail how the diocese will emerge from bankruptcy and how much it will pay its creditors, many of whom are abuse victims.
The diocese and creditors committee, which includes alleged victims of abuse by priests, said they wanted more time to review the claims and explore possible insurance coverage that could increase the settlement.
The Davenport Diocese has more than 105,000 members in 22 southeastern Iowa counties, including the cities of Iowa City, Davenport, Clinton and Burlington.
Stouvenel was unavailable for comment Sunday.
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