Iowa priest on administrative leave after sex abuse allegation

Des Moines Register

Sharyn Jackson,
June 30, 2014

The Diocese of Des Moines has placed an Iowa priest on indefinite administrative leave after determining that a decades-old allegation of sexual abuse of a minor is “credible,” according to a news release issued today from the diocese.

Father Howard Fitzgerald, the priest at Simpson College, St Thomas Aquinas Parish in Indianola and Immaculate Conception Church in St. Marys, can no longer function publicly as a priest and has been asked to stop wearing clerical garb, the release says.

The case has been forwarded to the Vatican.

No details were given about the sexual abuse incident. Bishop Richard Pates of the Diocese of Des Moines apologized to the victim, who asked to remain anonymous. The victim has received services from the diocesan Victim Assistance Advocate, Sherry Knox. Local law enforcement has been informed of the incident, the release says.

“It is a top priority that we address all credible allegations of sexual abuse in the manner outlined by the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. In addition, the diocese continues to do all it can to ensure we create a safe environment for children and all vulnerable individuals in our churches and schools,” Pates said.

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