Bishop Accountability
  Lawsuit: Diocese Knew of Abuse
The Davenport Catholic Diocese Now Faces a Dozen Suits over Sexual Activity

By Shirley Ragsdale
Des Moines Register
February 6, 2004

A 12th priest abuse lawsuit filed against the Davenport Catholic Diocese alleges that church officials were aware of improper sexual activity by the Rev. Francis Bass 14 years before the priest allegedly abused the lawsuit's plaintiff.

The petition, filed Wednesday, alleges that even though another priest complained in 1960 about improper sexual activity by Bass with a Davenport boy, church officials took no action against him.

Instead of removing him from the ministry, the diocese appointed Bass to be diocesan director of vocations and allowed him to serve on the priest personnel board, the lawsuit contends.

The Clinton County lawsuit was filed by an unnamed plaintiff, who with his family attended church at St. Anne's parish in Long Grove and at St. Patrick's parish in Delmar. The abuse began in 1984, when he was an altar boy at St. Patrick's, and allegedly took place at the rectory and in a motel room during an out-of-town trip.

The Davenport diocese acknowledged the lawsuit in a written statement Thursday: "The lawsuit alleges sexual misconduct occurring 20 years ago. Father Bass has been retired since 1992 and does not have any diocesan duties.

"The diocese is completing its investigation of 50 years of files concerning clergy, including Father Bass. A public report will be issued in the very near future."

Bass was associate pastor at St. Joseph Parish in Davenport from 1957-1966. Earlier lawsuits alleged that Bass had improper sexual contact with boys when he was assigned to St. Joseph parish in Davenport from 1957-1966 when he was pastor in East Pleasant Plain from 1967-1973 and when he was pastor at Delmar from 1981-1992.

This is the fourth lawsuit against Bass and the 12th filed since the beginning of 2003 alleging sexual misconduct by priests.


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