Panel Adds 4 to Abuse List
Diocese Says Soens Accused by 31 Minor Males

Associated Press, carried in Press-Citizen
November 4, 2008

DES MOINES — A church panel Monday announced that there is evidence that four clergy members who served in the Diocese of Davenport have sexually abused minors, including a former principal at Regina High.

The diocese added Joseph Hines, Eugene Smith, Lawrence Soens and Gerald Stouvenel to a list of those who have been credibly accused of sexually abusing minors. The list will be posted on the diocese's Web site.

Hines is dead, Smith has been defrocked by the Vatican, and Soens' case has been sent to Rome for a decision. Stouvenel has not been defrocked and works in the diocese, though not with children.

The church's review board found that allegations that Stouvenel, a priest, had sexually abused three male minors in the 1970s was credible.

Soens, a bishop in Sioux City, was accused of sexually abusing students at Regina High from its opening in 1958 to 1967 when he was its principal. The allegations came in 2002 from a former student. He also was accused of sexually abusing a male minor when he was the rector at St. Ambrose Seminary. According to a news release from the Diocese, the board did not review all of the allegations against him because some claimants did not want their claims reviewed.

A previous church investigation had found Soens' behavior was inappropriate but not sexual in nature. The news release said Soens has been accused by 31 minor males who were in his parishes between 1950 in Burlington and 1983 in Clinton.

Soens and Regina High were sued in 2006 by more than a dozen men who claimed to have been abused. The case still is pending in Iowa courts.

Smith was accused by a female minor of abuse in the 1960s. Hines was accused by male and female minors in the 1940s.

One person previously accused of abusing a minor was cleared by the panel of lawyers, who are supported by the Vatican. The decision to find Monsignor Drake Shafer not guilty was confirmed by the Vatican.

Monday's announcement is the latest development in a lengthy abuse scandal that has plagued the diocese. In May, a bankruptcy judge approved a plan allowing the diocese to pay $37 million to more than 150 people who say they were sexually abused by diocese priests. Part of that settlement, $650,000, was to be paid by St. Mary's Church in Iowa City after four individuals had claimed they were sexually abused by Msgr. Carl Meinberg, who was pastor there from 1940 to 1967.

The diocese had filed for bankruptcy in October 2006, saying it did not have the money to settle the claims stemming from its cases stretching back for decades.


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