Three Abuse Suits Pending against Diocese

By Shirley Ragsdale
Dea Moines Register
July 19, 2003

A third molestation lawsuit against the Davenport Catholic Diocese has come to light since the district's second-ranking official acknowledged this week that he had been accused.

Vicar General Drake Shafer has denied a lawsuit's allegation that he molested a teenage boy more than 30 years ago. He said Wednesday that he is taking a leave of absence while the diocese investigates the allegations in the lawsuit filed by Des Moines lawyer Roxanne Barton Conlin.

Conlin said she filed another lawsuit in January alleging that a priest for the Church of All Saints in Keokuk sexually abused a Hamilton, Ill., man in the late 1960s when he was a parish altar boy.

The lawsuit does not name the victim but identifies the Rev. Martin Diamond, now deceased. It accuses him of abusing the plaintiff, who was between the ages of 8 and 11. The abuse occurred at the church, the rectory and the priest's home before Diamond was transferred, the lawsuit states.

Because the case was filed before the Davenport Diocese adopted new policies for reporting and pursuing cases of sexual abuse of a minor, the diocese did not acknowledge the lawsuit or otherwise make the information public. Contacted Friday, Char Maaske, the diocese's chief financial officer, cited the ongoing litigation when she declined to comment.

The Davenport diocese has at least three civil lawsuits alleging sex abuse by priests as well as one criminal pornography case pending against a priest on the diocese staff.

In addition to Monsignor Shafer and the Rev. Diamond, retired priest James Janssen also has been named in a lawsuit against the diocese. A Clinton County man is suing the diocese, saying he was molested while he was an altar boy at St. Joseph parish in Sugar Creek in the late 1960s.


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