|Ex-Priest Janssen Held in Contempt for Hiding Funds
By Ann McGlynn
November 7, 2007
The defrocked priest ordered by a jury to pay his nephew $1.9 million for years of sex abuse is in contempt of court for hiding $80,000 in assets, a Scott County judge ruled.
James Janssen, 4315 W. High St., Davenport, could face a fine of up to $500 or up to six months in county jail if he does not produce the savings bonds within two months, Judge Bobbi Alpers wrote in the case of James Wells versus Janssen.
"The evidence demonstrates beyond a reasonable doubt that James Janssen has a history of financial transactions which he has carefully and calculatedly executed in an effort to hide his substantial financial assets from any potential creditor," Alpers wrote. "Over the years, the conduct of Mr. Janssen has been intentional and deliberate with the motive to amass assets that are beyond the reach of others, including this plaintiff who prevailed in his lawsuit against Mr. Janssen."
A jury in May 2005 awarde d Wells the verdict for nine years of sexual abuse by Janssen, from 1953 to 1962. Janssen, 85, has never been criminally prosecuted but has been accused of abusing several children.
According to testimony, the Quad-City Times published an article on May 22, 2003, detailing the first lawsuit to be filed against Janssen, in Clinton County. It was from an unidentified former altar boy at the parish in Sugar Creek who said Janssen abused him repeatedly, prefacing sex acts in the church rectory and elsewhere with "This is how we build trust."
The day after the story was published, Janssen and his sister, Dorothy, began a five-month period of cashing $712,648 in bonds.
The bonds, which list both Janssens as owners, were purchased from January 1973 to January 1994. Janssen and his sister decided to purchase bonds instead of putting the money in stocks or in the bank because their parents lost most of their money during the Great Depression, Janssen testified.
Several of the checks issued when the bonds were cashed were held for more than a year before they were deposited into an account, according to testimony from accountant Gary Shapley, who researched Janssen's financial records at the request of Wells' attorneys.
The checks, Janssen testified, were placed in the bottom drawer of an antique dresser owned by his sister or in Janssen's apartment at St. Vincent's Center.
The money went toward the purchase of a $176,000 house at 4815 W. High St., Davenport. The home is near Emeis Park, and it is where James and Dorothy Janssen live. Other expenses and purchases include a car, $66,000 in legal bills for James Janssen and income tax on the cashing of the bonds.
Ultimately, all of the money was accounted for or traced by Shapley, except for $80,000 that went to purchase bonds that do not show up on the list of assets, he said.
Ann McGlynn can be contacted at (563) 383-2336 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
A trial date is set for the lawsuit filed by James Wells against James Janssen's sister, Dorothy, alleging she assisted her brother in hiding assets.
At issue is the Janssen home at 4315 W. High St., Davenport, a 2003 Toyota Corolla and U.S. Treasury bonds.
Trial is set for Nov. 15 in Scott County District Court.
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