Rev. James Elmer Leu

Summary of Case: Pleaded guilty to systematic sexual abuse (1985-89) of two brothers at St. Mary's parish in Lone Tree, where Leu was pastor. The boys were altar boys and minors. Leu was sentenced to 2 years in prison, and since his release is allowed to say private Mass and is living "a life of prayer and penance," according to the diocese. Ordained in 1971, Leu worked at 4 other parishes, including Sacred Heart in Newton when accused priest Francis Bass was pastor.

: 9/15/45
Birthplace: Muscatine IA
Ordained: 5/29/71 by Bishop Gerald F. O'Keefe at Sacred Heart Cathedral, Davenport IA
Seminary: St. Ambrose Seminary, Davenport IA (1967); Mt. St. Bernard Seminary, Dubuque IA; University of Iowa Summer School (Teaching Certificate [St. Ambrose College], 1969; St. John's School of Divinity, Collegeville MN (Master of Divinity, 1971)
Incardinated: Davenport IA
Died: 2/4/13

A useful summary of the case can be found in Judge August F. Honsell, Ruling on Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (filed 10/26/92). Leu's diocesan clergy record was filed as part of the exhibit to Bishop Gerald O'Keefe's deposition in this case (filed 8/25/92) {1} {2} {3} {4} {5} {6} {7}. See also Msgr. Monsignor Michael J. Morrissey, Deposition (filed 8/25/92) {1} {2} {3}.

Start Stop Parish Town State Position Comment
6/15/71 7/29/71 Holy Family Davenport IA Temporary Associate Pastor  
7/29/71 7/26/77 Holy Family Davenport IA Associate Pastor, 3/3. Pastor was Robert J. Welch; other priests (all 2/3) were Rev. George Hoenig, Rev. Thomas J. Gehlsen, and Michael J. Spiekermeier Enrollment in the parish school trended down from 660 to 453.
7/26/77 10/3/78 Sacred Heart Newton IA Temporary Associate Pastor 2/2. Francis E. Bass was pastor until 1/31/78, then Leu was temporary administrator for two weeks (see next entry), then Rev. Joseph B. Denning came in as pastor. Denning was the 3rd of the diocese's 7 synodal judges. Also at the parish was a religious education center called the McCann Center.
1/31/78 2/14/78 Sacred Heart Newton IA Temporary Administrator (Vicar Ecomone)  
10/3/78 11/10/85 Our Lady of Victory Davenport IA Associate Pastor 2/2, 2/3, 2/2. Pastor was Kenneth C. Martin, then Rev. William O. Meyer, who became Davenport dean during this time. The other priest was Rev. Gregory A. Steckel. John F. Kennedy, the parish school, had enrollments trend up from 185 to 232.
3/10/85 11/30/88 St. Mary's Lone Tree

Charged with the systematic sexual abuse of two brothers who were altar boys, Leu pled guilty and was sentenced to prison (see Honsell, Ruling, pp. 1-2).
IA Pastor, 1/1.  
8/1/88 11/30/88 St. Mary's Nichols IA Pastor, 1/1. Mission attended from St. Mary's in Lone Tree. Before and after this brief arrangement, the church in Nichols was attended by Rev. Stephen P. Ebel from St. Joseph's in Columbus Junction.
1988 1989 Kahl Home for the Aged and Infirm

Davenport IA Chaplain. Sr. M.T. Kathleen, supr. and admin. Capacity of 141 with 3 priests in residence.
1989 2004       Absent on Leave So listed in the Official Catholic Directory for these years.
  2004       Organist at a Catholic church in Iowa City.  
  2013         Died 2/4/13.

Source: Clergy Record of Rev. James Elmer Leu, supplemented and corrected from the Official Catholic Directory (New York: Kenedy and Sons, 1983-2003). Judge August F. Honsell, Ruling on Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (filed 10/26/92). Bishop Gerald O'Keefe, Deposition (filed 8/25/92) {1} {2} {3} {4} {5} {6} {7}. Msgr. Monsignor Michael J. Morrissey, Deposition (filed 8/25/92) {1} {2} {3}.

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 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 Leu's career history as it is represented in the Official Catholic Directory and in other sources with the allegation against Leu that resulted in his guilty plea and conviction on abuse charges.

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 01/30/18.