Judge Grants Clear Lake Woman's Request to Add Priest to Abuse List
By Brian Wellner
August 23, 2012
A U.S. bankruptcy court judge is ordering the Diocese of Davenport to add three of its deceased priests to its online list of those credibly accused of child sexual abuse, records filed late Tuesday show.
The accused priests being added are the Revs. John Bonn, Michael Broderick and William Dawson.
The decision by U.S. District Judge Lee Jackwig came after she reviewed allegations brought to the court by 47-year-old Kathleen Bowman of Clear Lake.
Bowman brought her allegations after bankruptcy proceedings involving the diocese already were under way, and she has received a settlement.
She claimed in court filings that she was sexually abused as a child by the three priests. She also claimed that Dawson was still alive when she first brought her allegation to the diocese in September 2011. Dawson died Dec. 13, 2011. Broderick died in 1984, and Bonn died in 1975.
A diocese spokesman declined comment Wednesday.
“Until the diocese receives the written court order from the judge, we cannot comment,” Deacon David Montgomery said.
A lawyer representing the diocese also declined comment Wednesday, saying his firm hasn’t seen the order.
The diocese previously said that Bowman is claiming abuse that occurred “decades ago” and after an investigation, the diocese’s own review board concluded her claims were “not credible.”
Bowman’s attorney, Craig Levien, said Wednesday that Bowman did a “brave act” by publicly naming her abusers and insisting they be named. He said the judge thought there was legitimate basis to require the diocese to name her alleged abusers.
“This tells other survivors that the court will listen to what occurred to them and provide them a voice to tell their story in court,” Levien said.
“I look at the court’s ruling as encouragement for other victims to come forward and report their abusers and the nature of the abuse,” he added.
This summer the diocese emerged from bankruptcy after settling for $37 million covering more than 150 victims.
One of the settlement’s non-monetary requirements is that the diocese must identify on its website priests whom the diocese deems to be credibly accused.
Bowman claimed in court filings after the bankruptcy case was closed that the diocese was not complying with that requirement by not naming her alleged abusers.
The list includes 31 former priests, their places of employment, dates and other details. As of Wednesday, Bonn, Broderick and Dawson weren’t yet added.
Jackwig has ruled that the diocese can withhold the names of 18 priests whom the diocese deemed not to be credibly accused but whose accusers received financial settlements.
The judge also ordered that an accuser can come forward to request a hearing if the person thinks the diocese is not in compliance.
The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, applauded the judge’s latest decision.
“The public needs and deserves to know more, not less, about clerics who commit and conceal child sex crimes,” SNAP director David Clohessy said Wednesday. “Parents and parishioners need and deserve church officials who honor, not disregard, commitments to be open about pedophile priests.”