Man, Alleging Past Sexual Abuse, Sues Archdiocese

By Shannon Henson
Telegraph Herald [Dubuque IA]
March 2, 1999

1966-1971: Incidents allegedly involved now-deceased priest

A man is suing the Archdiocese of Dubuque because he says he was sexually abused by a priest from 1966 to 1971.

In a document filed Friday in Dubuque County District Court, the man, identified only as John W.J. Doe, says he was sexually abused by the Rev. John J. Brickley, who was a priest at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Eagle Grove, Iowa, and at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Williams. Eagle Grove is in Wright County, while Williams is in Hamilton County. Doe was a parishioner and went to the parish school.

Doe would have been 8 years old in 1966, when the abuse allegedly began.

"Brickley ... repeatedly engaged in unpermitted, harmful and offensive sexual contact," court documents state.

The abuse occurred in the churches, including in the rectory, during outings and during church-sponsored activities and events, the documents state.

Only after Doe began counseling in late 1996 did he know Brickley's acts caused his psychological injuries, court documents state.

Brickley is now deceased.

Doe claims the archdiocese was vicariously liable and negligent because Brickley engaged in the criminal conduct while in the scope of his employment and accomplished the sexual abuse by virtue of his job-created authority.

The documents also state that the archdiocese knew or should have known of Brickley's "dangerous and exploitive propensities as a child sexual abuser and/or unfit agent, and despite such knowledge, negligently employed and/or failed to supervise Father Brickley's position of trust and authority as a Roman Catholic priest."

Vicar-general Msgr. David Wheeler, of the archdiocese, said officials are aware of the lawsuit and had responded in accordance with policy.

"Our policy is that we offer concern and solace needed with no comment as to the truth of the allegations, and often psychological or spiritual assistance is offered in the spirit of Christian justice or charity," Wheeler said.

He had no further comment. A jury trial was demanded.


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