Ex-Diocese Leader Accused of Sex Abuse

By Ragsdale Shirley
Des Moines Register
July 30, 2005

A former top administrator for the Davenport Catholic Diocese has been accused of child sex abuse in a lawsuit filed last week.

The diocese on Friday acknowledged that Scott County resident D. Michl Uhde has sued, alleging that beginning in 1957, Monsignor Thomas Feeney sexually abused him while they were on bird-watching outings at Credit Island Park in Davenport.

Feeney died in 1981. He was vicar general, the diocese's top administrator, from 1968 to 1981, according to Craig Levien, the Davenport lawyer who filed the lawsuit.

In a statement, Bishop William Franklin said the diocese had hoped that mediation, rather than expensive, time-consuming lawsuits would be the "best and fairest way to resolve these cases."

Levien, who in October negotiated a $9 million settlement for 37 clients against the diocese, said his client had little choice but to sue.

"We would agree, mediation would be best, but information about Monsignor Feeney was hidden from us, and the lawsuit is the only way we can get information from the diocese on him," Levien said. "After the abuse occurred and there was a complaint, Feeney was promoted to vicar general."

Levien said the only lawsuits he has filed since the settlement have been on priests who were promoted to positions of influence after abuse occurred. Feeney served on the faculty of St. Ambrose University, was chaplain at Davenport Mercy Hospital and was pastor of Sacred Heart Cathedral and St. Anthony parish in Davenport, the diocese said.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.