Former St. Mary’s priest named in attorney general’s abuse report

The Storm Lake Times [Storm Lake IA]

June 30, 2021

By Tom Cullen

A former Storm Lake priest and Fonda man affiliated with the Catholic church have been accused of sexually abusing young boys decades ago, according to an Iowa Attorney General’s report that commended the Sioux City Diocese for keeping an active list of “credibly accused” priests and clergy members.

The attorney general’s report released last week said Everett Apt of St. Mary’s Parish and an unidentified “non-clergy member who was involved in a Catholic organization” in Fonda were among its list of 31 alleged abusers. The allegations reportedly occurred in the 1940s and mid-1960s, which falls out of Iowa’s statute of limitations for criminal prosecution. 

The report said a woman told “several priests” in the 1980s about sexual abuse allegedly committed by Apt against her husband when he was in high school. Apt was already leveled with 10 credible allegations. The woman’s claims were made after Apt’s death.

The diocese withheld the name of the alleged offender in Fonda. His location is unknown and so is his status on the diocese’s credibly accused list. The victim, who was 14 or 15 at the time of the incident in 1965 or 1966, was allegedly abused by the offender after he was provided alcohol. 

The  report is the result of a multi-year investigation into nearly 50 complaints of sexual abuse against current and former Catholic priests, including 17 allegations that had never before been reported. 

The state’s investigation was inspired by a sweeping and scathing report issued by the Pennsylvania attorney general in 2018, which used grand jury subpoenas to uncover hidden church records.

Iowa doesn’t have statewide grand jury powers, so Attorney General  Tom Miller worked with the state’s dioceses to share records of past cases and complaints. The state also set up an independent hotline for clergy abuse complaints. 

The Sioux City Diocese said in a joint statement with the state’s three other dioceses that the church is “committed to do all that is humanly possible to protect minors from the sin and crime of clergy sexual abuse, and to promote healing.” 

The attorney general’s office commended the Sioux City Diocese for “operating in good faith” to prepare and update its list of credibly accused priests. The diocese in 2002 empaneled a seven-member diocesan review board that investigates allegations of abuse that “could have happened” and is “within the realm of possibility.”

The diocese released its list of credibly accused priests in 2020.