Archdiocese of Dubuque Clears Priest Accused of Sex Abuse; Advocacy Group Unconvinced
July 13, 2015
A former Dubuque priest accused of sexual abuse has been cleared by the Archdiocesan Review Board, but an advocacy group for clerical-abuse victims doubts the veracity of the investigation.
The Rev. Leo Riley served as a Church of the Resurrection associate pastor in 1985 and 1986.
Jeff Buchheit, 39, formerly of Dubuque, had said in March that he was in fourth grade and serving as an altar boy in October 1985 when he was abused by Riley. In response, Riley had been placed on leave from his position as a pastor in the Diocese of Venice, Fla.
Neither the Florida diocese nor Buchheit could immediately be reached for comment on Sunday.
Dubuque Archbishop Michael Jackels wrote in a letter to parishioners Sunday that "the best information available does not support a reasonable belief that the allegation is true."
He wrote that the review board considered evidence against Riley and that church officials hired a licensed private investigator to interview Buchheit, Riley and people who knew them. The investigator also checked criminal complaints made against Riley.
"Unless additional evidence is presented, there is no need to pursue it any further," Jackels wrote.
Jackels wrote that the findings of the church investigation would be communicated to Riley and his bishop in Florida.
Buchheit had made his claims during a March press conference at the Waterloo law office of Dutton, Braun, Staack & Hellman.
David Clohessy, executive director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said in a statement to TH Media that his group has little faith in church investigations of abuse claims.
"So we are worried that Fr. Riley has allegedly been cleared by his bishop of child sex abuse accusations," Clohessy wrote.
Clohessy expressed his disappointment that the investigation was performed by "Jackels' hand-picked panel."
"We hope parishioners, the press and the public will press Jackels to disclose more about his so-called investigation and how it was carried out. We beg every single person who may have seen, suspected or suffered crimes by Fr. Riley or cover-ups by his supervisors to speak up now. It's crucial to share what you may have seen, heard or suspected with secular authorities, not church officials," Clohessy wrote.
A database of clergy-abuse claims, BishopAccountability. org, notes that Riley was transferred often during his years in Iowa and was sent to work in Florida in 2002.