|Lawsuits against Former Iowa City Regina Principal Dropped
By Gregg Hennigan
May 29, 2009
A dozen men who said they were abused as schoolchildren by former Iowa City Regina principal and retired Sioux City Bishop Lawrence Soens have dropped their lawsuits against him.
The men last week had the lawsuits dismissed without prejudice in Scott County District Court in an attempt to free up the Roman Catholic Church to punish Soens, said their attorney, Craig Levien of Davenport. In other cases, the church has avoided taking disciplinary action against a priest if there is a pending civil suit, he said.
"They're hoping that ... will clear the hurdle," he said.
According to online court records and Soens' attorney, Timothy Bottaro of Sioux City, one case is still pending, although Levien said he thought they were all dismissed.
Bottaro said the dismissals came as a surprise. He otherwise had no comment except to say Soens, who is in his 80s and has removed himself from public ministry, maintains his innocence.
All of the men who brought the lawsuits were compensated in the Diocese of Davenport's $37 million bankruptcy settlement with more than 150 clergy sexual abuse victims last year, Levien said.
More than 30 men have accused Soens of abusing them when they were minors, with most of the allegations dating to when Soens was principal of Regina in the 1950s and 1960s. As part of the bankruptcy settlement, the Davenport diocese had to submit reports about Soens to the Vatican, which victims' advocates said they hoped would result in Soens being forced to leave the priesthood.
Diocese spokesman David Montgomery did not immediately return phone and e-mail messages inquiring about the status of the reports. In November, the diocese said that abuse accusations against Soens were credible.
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