|Southeast Iowa Priest Suspended Amid Abuse Claims
Bishop Martin Amos Waited More Than a Month after He Suspended the Rev. Gerald Stouvenel to Announce His Decision
By Shirley Ragsdale
Des Moines Register
September 5, 2007
A priest in the Davenport Diocese has been suspended while officials investigate four child sexual abuse allegations against him.
Bishop Martin Amos waited more than a month after he suspended the Rev. Gerald Stouvenel to announce his decision.
"The bishop was hoping to give more information to the (diocesan sexual abuse) review board," said Deacon Michael Montgomery, spokesman for the diocese.
"The investigation was taking longer than expected. The review board met and advised the bishop to release the information, to not delay any longer, even though the investigation wasn't done," he said.
Stouvenel, pastor of Saints Mary & Joseph parish and Sacred Heart parish in Fort Madison and St. Joseph parish in Montrose, has been named by four adults who claim he abused them 30 years ago when they were children, the diocese announced Sunday.
"According to the Diocese of Davenport policies relating to sexuality and personal behavior, I have placed Father Stouvenel on administrative leave effective July 27 while a full investigation is being done regarding the credibility of the allegations," said Bishop Martin Amos in a written statement issued Sunday. "The Diocese of Davenport has forwarded these reports to the Scott County Attorney."
Scott County Attorney Michael J. Walton said no criminal charges will be filed.
"Allegations pertain to matters that occurred 30 years ago, and so the criminal statute of limitations long since expired," Walton said. "There is no criminal recourse at this point."
Stouvenel has been leader of the Keokuk Roman Catholic Deanery, a regional diocesan post, since July 2005. He served on the youth ministry committee of the diocesan board of education.
"This is a significant development, as Stouvenel is a high-ranking priest in the diocese," said Craig Levien of Davenport, an attorney representing two of the four people accusing Stouvenel of abuse. "The people I represent are cooperating with the investigation, and in statements they gave corroborating details that significantly enhance the credibility of their complaints."
The abuse allegations were among 156 claims made against the Davenport Diocese after it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in October 2006. A bankruptcy judge set the deadline for filing abuse claims at July 15.
"It's hard to imagine that if four came forward now, that zero had come forward naming Stouvenel before," said David Clohessy, national director of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. "Someone is at fault here, either bankruptcy officials or the diocese. Someone should have sat down and compared the list of names of the priests who were accused and the names of priests in ministry in the Davenport diocese. He should have been suspended July 16."
During Stouvenel's absence, the Rev. Troy Richmond, parochial vicar of the congregations, will serve as temporary pastor.
Stouvenel was ordained in 1972. In addition to serving in Lee County, Stouvenel served in as associate pastor at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport; faculty member of Assumption High School in Davenport; associate pastor at St. Mary parish, West Point; Church of the Visitation, Camanche; St. Mary parish, West Burlington; St. Mary parish, Dodgeville; St. Patrick parish, Burlington; and Saints Mary & Patrick, West Burlington.
Religion Editor Shirley Ragsdale can be reached at (515) 284-8208 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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