Bishop Accountability
  Church to Release Report on Priest Abuse Allegations

By Todd Ruger
Quad-City (IA) Times
January 27, 2004

The Catholic Diocese of Davenport will issue a public report detailing allegations of sexual abuse by priests over the past 50 years once an internal review of personnel files is completed, the diocese announced Tuesday.

The review will include every priest who serves or has served in the eastern Iowa diocese over the past five decades, including the Rev. James Janssen, who is named in eight of 11 lawsuits that have been filed against the diocese, according to a news release issued Tuesday.

“First and foremost, the people of the diocese need this information, and they’re going to get it,” diocese attorney Rand Wonio said.

As for how that information would affect the 11 lawsuits, he said, “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.”

The report will include much of the same information that would have been in a study commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops that is attempting to tally every Catholic Church abuse case in the country since 1950, he said.

Davenport was one among the 3 percent of all dioceses nationally that did not respond to that study, conducted by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York. The college is scheduled to release a report Feb. 27.

Diocese officials said they could not participate in the study because it instructed them to destroy notes used to compile information for the study while a court order issued in the civil lawsuits instructed them not to destroy any documents.

“I can’t tell you a specific date because the statistics must be accurate, so we have to go through every file,” Wonio said of a possible date for release of the internal report.

That review will answer questions as to why Bishop William Franklin ordered Janssen to cease public priestly activity as of April 1996 and informed other diocese priests of that order. Wonio declined Tuesday to explain why Franklin issued the order.

“There will be a full explanation in the very near future,” Wonio added.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.