Review Clears Davenport Priest Accused of Touching
By Brian Wellner
East Lothian News
May 23, 2013
The Diocese of Davenport, which temporarily removed two priests from their ministries last month after allegations surfaced they inappropriately touched minors, has reinstated one of them, Bishop Martin Amos said Thursday.
The Rev. Robert Harness, pastor of Holy Family Church, Davenport, and the Rev. John Stack, chaplain at Mercy Medical Center, Clinton, were removed from their positions while an investigation was conducted.
As of Thursday, Harness will return to the ministry after a diocese investigation did not substantiate an allegation that he inappropriately touched a minor in 1990.
A review lasting a month conducted by a private detective found no wrongdoing by Harness, Amos said, adding he wanted to publicize the outcome "in the hope of helping to restore the good character of Father Harness."
Harness was accused of inappropriately touching a minor during a game that was played at a high school retreat while he was the pastor at St. Mary in Keota, Iowa.
The investigation found the game was played in front of as many as 50 students and 10 adults, and no witnesses or anyone else reported seeing any inappropriate behavior, Amos said.
The diocese reported the incident to the Scott County Attorney's Office in compliance with the memorandum of understanding between the diocese and the county attorney, Amos said, adding the county attorney gave permission to the diocese to investigate the case.
"I ask for your continued prayers for Father Harness," Jeanne Von Feldt, principal of All Saints Catholic School, Davenport, wrote in an email to parents Thursday. "He is such a great supporter of All Saints Catholic School."
The investigation into Stack is still in progress, Diocese spokesman Deacon David Montgomery said Thursday.
The allegation against Stack is that he inappropriately touched minors in the 1980s. He first served at Holy Family in Davenport as a parochial vicar from 1988 to 1990. He has served as the chaplain at the Clinton hospital since 1994 and has served in various roles in churches in Keokuk, East Pleasant Plain, Richland, Clinton, Camanche, Lost Nation, Toronto, Oxford Junction, Sugar Creek, DeWitt, Charlotte and Grand Mound.