Bishop Accountability
  DeWitt Man Files Suit against Priest, Church

By Kay Luna
Quad-City Times
November 18, 2003

CLINTON, Iowa — A fifth man has stepped forward with sex abuse allegations against the Rev. James Janssen and the Diocese of Davenport, filed this week in a Clinton County lawsuit.

Donald J. Green of DeWitt is accusing the retired Catholic priest of fondling him when he was a minor, beginning in 1982 while he and his family attended SS Philip & James Parish in Grand Mound.

Green also blames the diocese for failing to take action against Janssen, and allowing him to continue in a “position of power and authority within the Diocese,” the lawsuit states.

Green issued a written statement Tuesday that said he filed the lawsuit because of the way the diocese and Janssen have responded to other recent lawsuits about alleged sexual abuse of minors in the church.

“The denial of both parties of any inappropriate actions is very disturbing and disappointing,” Green wrote. “It was my choice to come forward at this time to support and validate the other men that have filed lawsuits. Previously, I did not fully understand the extent and depth of the problem. I hoped I was alone in this situation.”

The diocese issued a written statement Tuesday that acknowledges the newest lawsuit and explains that the diocese has been working with Green to provide pastoral and professional assistance “to resolve problems that were alleged to have occurred over 20 years ago.”

“Additionally, at the request of Don Green, Bishop Franklin has addressed the parish at Grand Mound,” the diocese’s statement reads. “It would not be appropriate to discuss this litigation further.”

The Grand Mound church was the last place Janssen presided as priest, from 1980-90, before his retirement.

The church was where Green was baptized and confirmed, where he attended catechism classes and served many years as an altar boy.

Green said the diocese should have known about the sexual abuse, but failed to take action against the priest. He was never investigated, defrocked, reported to law enforcement, disciplined, documented or the subject of any other steps to prevent such abuse in the future, the lawsuit states.

Instead, Janssen was allowed to serve in the Priest Senate and placed on the Priest Personnel Board from 1976-1989. He also was permitted to serve as a Boy Scout chaplain from 1980-90.

The lawsuit claims Janssen acted “willfully and recklessly,” with intentional disregard for the victim’s rights.

Green said in his written statement that the lawsuit is “not about money.”

“Based on the response of the diocese to other victims, I am convinced the only way to create positive change is for the diocese to face legal action,” he said. “It is my goal to make sure this type of cover-up does not continue. I want the children of our church to be protected, and the needs of victims of sexual abuse by clergy to be addressed and met in a loving Christian manner.”


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