Rev. Theodore Anthony Geerts

Summary of Case: Accused of abusing many boys with Bass, Janssen, and Murphy, who were classmates at Kenrick Seminary and like Geerts were ordained in 1948 (evidence for Geerts's Kenrick connection is anecdotal). His rectory at St. Boniface in Farmington, where he was pastor for 7 years, was allegedly a frequent venue for group sex and the viewing of pornography, of which Geerts maintained a large collection. Before Farmington he worked for 14 years at St. Patrick's in Clinton. Geerts was also pastor at churches in String Prairie, Dodgeville, and Kingston, and assisted for a year at St. Bridget's in Las Vegas NV, where he was arrested in 1992. Geerts died in 2004.

: 1948
Seminary: Kenrick Seminary, St. Louis
Incardinated: Davenport IA
Died: 9/10/04


Resources: Victim's reports of abuse by Geerts are from the years when Geerts was pastor of St. Boniface in Farmington. The most detailed accounts of orgies and pornography at St. Boniface are by two former altar boys from St. Joseph's in Fort Madison (1, 2). Five diocesan documents pertaining to Geerts have been publicly filed, though over a hundred have been released. A 1969 letter from Geerts to Bishop O'Keefe suggests that Geerts team up with Janssen at Sugar Creek. In a 1970 letter, O'Keefe tells Bishop Maher of San Diego that Geerts is on leave and living in the San Diego diocese, but won't "cause any problem" and "of course, does not function as a priest." A 1991 letter from O'Keefe to Geerts gives permission for Geerts to function again as a priest in Las Vegas, after the recently suspended Janssen interceded with O'Keefe for Geerts. One year later, a letter to O'Keefe from Bishop Walsh of Reno-Las Vegas encloses a letter from the priest under whom Geerts worked in Las Vegas. The priest reports an arrest and other problems that led to Geerts being asked to leave.

Start Stop Parish Town State Position Notes
1948 1962 St. Patrick's

Clinton IA Associate pastor, 2/2. His pastors were Rev. Harvey F. Finefield, who died 7/8/55, and Rev. John B. McEniry, who was later a diocesan consultor (1973-76). The parish school had 153 sudents in 1949-50 and 318 in 1961-62. Until 1957, Bass was also working in Clinton. Bass, Geerts, and Janssen were all stationed in Clinton parishes 1950-53.
1962 1969 St. Boniface


An altar boy from St. Joseph's parish in Fort Madison describes many orgies in which Geerts participated at his St. Boniface rectory. Pornography was kept in a locked cabinet.

Another altar boy describes the same abuse and group sex involving Geerts, Janssen, Bass, and Murphy.
IA Pastor, 1/1. Confessed abuser Rev. William F. Wiebler was Geerts's successor at St. Boniface. A 2/26/69 letter from Geerts to Bishop O'Keefe proposes Geerts's "living in community" with Janssen at St. Joseph's in Sugar Creek, where Janssen had been made pastor two years before. Other small parishes could be added to St. Joseph's, as O'Keefe himself apparently suggested. O'Keefe has "been very understanding" with Geerts.
1962 1969 St. Mary's String Prairie IA Pastor, 1/1. Mission attended from St. Boniface in Farmington.
1969 1970 St. Mary's Dodgeville IA Pastor, 1/1. Not listed in the 1970 Official Catholic Directory , but indexed in that volume as pastor in Dodgeville. In the diocesan entry for that parish, Rev. Thomas J. Reilman is listed as administrator.
1969 1970 St. Mary's Kingston IA Pastor, 1/1. Mission attended from St. Mary's, Dodgeville.
1969?     Spring Valley CA Excavating contracting business Geerts's whereabout are known because of a recently filed letter from Bishop O'Keefe to Bishop Maher of San Diego.
1970 1986       Absent on Leave So listed in the Official Catholic Directory for these years.
12/18/91 12/15/92 St. Bridget

Las Vegas

Geerts was asked to leave because of an arrest, a lifestyle that could bring scandal, and "personal property" that Geerts is unwilling to get rid of.
NV 2/2, with Rev. James L. Swenson as administrator. Position requested by the recently suspended Janssen and approved by Bishop O'Keefe; permitted by Bishop Walsh; and continued until Geerts was arrested.

Source: The Official Catholic Directory (New York: Kenedy and Sons, 1949-2003). Some diocesan documents submitted as exhibits to Plaintiff's Statement of Disputed Facts in Resistance to Defendants' Motions for Summary Judgment (Wells v. Janssen and Diocese of Davenport, Scott County District Court, Law No. 101220, served 5/14/04) and Plaintiff's Statement of Disputed Facts in Resistance to Defendants' Motions for Summary Judgment (John Doe III v. Janssen, Bass, Geerts, and Diocese of Davenport, Scott County District Court, Law No. 101428, served 5/14/04).

Priests in a Parish: We use the following convention to show a priest's place among the clergy of a parish: 1/2 means that he is the first priest listed in the Official Catholic Directory (usually the pastor) and that there is a total of two priests at the parish. The shorthand 3/4 means that the priest is listed third on a four-priest roster. See our sample page from the Directory.

Note: The Official Catholic Directory aims to report the whereabouts of Catholic priests in the United States on January 1 of the Directory's publication year. Our working assumption is that a priest listed in the Directory for a given year was at the same assignment for part of the previous year as well. However, Kenedy and Sons will sometimes accept updates well into the year of publication. Diocesan clergy records are rarely available to correct this information. The information in the Directory is also sometimes misleading or wrong. We have tried to create an accurate assignment record, given the source materials and their limitations. Assignment records are a work in progress and we are always improving the records that we post. Please email us with new information and corrections.

This assignment record collates Geert's career history as it is represented in the Official Catholic Directory with allegations against Geerts as they are described in survivors' accounts and diocesan documents. This assignment record is likely not a complete list of the allegations against Geerts. We make no representation regarding the truth of the allegations we report, and we remind our readers that in the U.S. judicial system, a person is considered innocent until proven guilty.

A Note on Nomenclature: We use the term "assignment record," instead of the more common "service record," because "service" is not an appropriate word for the activities of an abusive priest. Dioceses are often less than forthcoming about the activities of retired priests, but when we can determine those activities, we list them in these assignment records, particularly if they involve ministry. Retired priests remain under obedience to their bishop, and even the activities of laicized priests should be a concern to the diocese.

This assignment record was last updated on 10/27/04.