Men Alleging Sex Abuse Reveal Names
The two former altar boys accuse Monsignor Francis Zuch, who died in 1993, of repeatedly molesting them from 1970 to 1975

By Dan Eggen
Des Moines Register
February 16, 1996

The names of two former altar boys have been revealed in a lawsuit accusing a late Des Moines Catholic priest of decades of sexual abuse.

The two married couples who filed the December lawsuit are named in new court documents as Joseph and Jody Duff and Timothy and Patricia Lynch, all of Polk County.

Originally filed under aliases, the plaintiffs' names were revealed in response to requests by attorneys for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Des Moines and The Des Moines Register, who argued that those bringing a civil complaint should be identified.

The lawsuit accuses Monsignor Francis Zuch of repeatedly molesting the boys from 1970 to 1975, when the two were altar boys at the Basilica of St. John's Parish in Des Moines. Zuch died in

In addition, the petition alleges that "starting in the 1940s, Msgr. Francis Zuch engaged in a course of ongoing conduct of systematically sexually abusing numerous altar boys." Court documents suggest that others may join the lawsuit.

Through their attorney, the Duffs and the Lynches said Thursday that they had no comment.

The couples decided to make their names public in part because of criticism of their anonymity, said attorney Peter Berger. They initially sought to have the case sealed.

"They do not have anything to hide," Berger said. "The inference by The Register and others to the contrary helped their decision to go public."

Joseph Duff and Timothy Lynch allege that St. John's and the diocese were negligent in allowing the alleged abuse to occur. Both are seeking unspecified damages for emotional distress, treatment and medical expenses, and their wives want damages for loss of companionship.

Zuch, who died two years ago at the age of 94, was pastor of St. John's from 1964 until he retired in 1972, church officials said. He previously served as director of Catholic Charities and pastor of St. John's Parish in Cumming. He was ordained in 1932.

After the lawsuit was filed, Zuch's sister and two other former altar boys came to his defense, calling the allegations outrageous.

L.R. Voigts, a Des Moines attorney representing the church, said the diocese would proceed in its defense against the lawsuit.

"We don't have any direct information that anything went wrong, nor does the diocese," Voigts said.

The Des Moines Register does not print the names of alleged victims in criminal sexual abuse cases without their consent. In civil cases where plaintiffs seek monetary damages, however, the newspaper's policy is to identify the accusers.


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