Bishop Accountability

One judge to hear all Davenport Diocese priest sex abuse cases

Associated Press
January 2, 2004

Davenport, Iowa - A single judge will hear all six civil lawsuits filed against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Davenport and several priests in Scott and Clinton counties.

Having one judge hear motions on the four lawsuits filed in Clinton County and the two lawsuits filed in Scott County will make consistent rulings more likely across all the cases, Judge David Schoenthaler said Wednesday.

Schoenthaler is, the newly appointed chief judge of the Iowa judicial district that includes those counties.

Judge C.H. Pelton, who has already ordered the diocese to provide records of sexual abuse allegations against priests in one civil lawsuit will be assigned to preside over all six cases.

The lawsuits should move through the system more efficiently together due to their similar nature, the common defendant and their complex and high-profile nature, Schoenthaler said.

Attorneys for both sides are waiting for the Iowa Supreme Court to consider the diocese's request to appeal Pelton's Nov. 26 civil court ruling. He ordered church officials to provide part of the records they were asked to compile for the National Review Board, an independent panel appointed by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

All Catholic dioceses across the country were asked to participate in a national study to identify the number of victims and priests involved in the alleged sexual abuse of minors from 1950 to 2002.

The diocese says in the appeal that Pelton's order would force church leaders to reveal the identities of people who came forward with sex abuse complaints that they thought would remain confidential.


Original material copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.