Bishop Accountability
  Davenport Diocese Is Mum, Cites Lawsuit

By Tony Leys
Des Moines Register
January 7, 2004

The Davenport Catholic Diocese is one of only four Catholic dioceses nationally whose improvement efforts haven't been audited. It is the only Iowa diocese that has not publicly reported how many of its priests have been accused of sexual abuse, or how much money it has spent settling such accusations.

Davenport has become the most sued Iowa diocese in the past year, with nine priest abuse lawsuits in 13 months, including one filed this week.

Davenport church leaders are involved in a legal battle over whether they must turn over all their materials to the men suing the diocese. The leaders say they are afraid that handing over the records would expose other victims. A judge disagrees and has ordered them to share the information. The Iowa Supreme Court is reviewing the matter.

Diocese lawyer Rand Wonio said Tuesday that the diocese was abiding by new guidelines on handling sex-abuse issues, but the legal dispute prevented it from complying with the audit or reporting its statistics.

A national victim-rights advocate said Davenport is the only diocese in the country using that reasoning. David Clohessy of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests said sex abuse continued for decades because Catholic leaders focused on their legal liabilities and reputations. "The reason so many kids were abused for so long is that the bishops did just what the Davenport Diocese is doing now," he said.

Cathy Holtkamp, a Keokuk Catholic, said she believes church leaders are doing what is right: "I'm sure they didn't want to cover anything up."


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