Priest Charged with Sex Abuse

By Kathleen Sweeney
Telegraph Herald [Dubuque IA]
June 21, 1996

The associate pastor of St. Columbkille Catholic Church was charged today with six counts of third-degree sexual abuse.

The Rev. Timothy DeVenney, 32, turned himself into police around 8 o'clock this morning before making an initial appearance in district court.

Court documents say between July 1993 - when DeVenney was assigned to St. Columbkille Catholic Church in Dubuque - and June 1996, DeVenney committed six sexual assaults by fondling the genitals of five juveniles against their will.

While showing four of the five juveniles how to wear a rappelling harness, DeVenney reached into the juveniles' underwear, placed his hands on their bare genitals and fondled them, court documents said.

The separate incidents occurred in Dubuque, but police and county attorney officials did not say where.

A week later, DeVenney again touched one of the juveniles, pulling the pants and underwear off and fondling the child, court documents said.

On a rappelling trip to Wisconsin, DeVenney fondled the genitals of a fifth juvenile, documents said.

In court documents, Monsignor David Wheeler, vicar-general of the Archdiocese of Dubuque, said he confronted DeVenney about some of the accusations, and the priest said "he had in fact touched the children in a way that the children could have believed that they were improperly touched."

Dressed in a navy blue knit polo shirt and khaki pants, DeVenney quietly spoke to his lawyer, Robert Day, after waiving a preliminary hearing. Church members were absent from the courtroom.

Magistrate Judge Sidney Blum released DeVenney on a $10,000 unsecured bond.

Conditions of the release, however, restrict him from contact with the victims and require supervision whenever he may be with anyone younger than 18.

DeVenney headed back today to his parents' home in Marshalltown, Iowa, before going to the St. Louis Consultation Center, where he will be Monday through Thursday for a "psycho-sexual evaluation," at the request of the Archdiocese of Dubuque.

Wheeler said DeVenney telephoned archdiocesan officials Thursday to tell them of his intention to turn himself in.

"He has said, from the beginning, that he would cooperate with authorities and come in whenever they wanted him to," Wheeler said.

No church officials were in court, Wheeler said, partly because he wasn't aware they would be allowed to be present.

Assistant County Attorney Chris Corken said DeVenney qualifies for release to be evaluated. Results from the evaluation could be invaluable to the case, Corken said, but added, "We will be doing our own evaluation."

Assistant Police Chief Terry Lambert said police contacted DeVenney Thursday through Day. Lambert said he has no problems with the condition of DeVenney's release.

Day refused to comment.

DeVenney was placed on administrative leave June 10 after a youth's complaint of misconduct, complying with the Archdiocese of Dubuque policy on sexual misconduct - in place since December 1993.

DeVenney faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine for each count.

No one from the St. Louis Consultation Center would talk about the facility's programs this morning, nor say whether the facility is affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church. But, Wheeler said, the archdiocese has used the facility before for other priests who needed psychological help - for example, those who had serious struggles within their parishes.

Wheeler said archdiocesan officials have no plans for what will happen to DeVenney after he completes his evaluation in St. Louis, and before his next court date.


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