Bishop Accountability
  Q-C Diocese Hit with 13th Sex Lawsuit

By Todd Ruger
Quad-City Times
March 18, 2004

Three men have filed a civil lawsuit against the Catholic Diocese of Davenport and the Rev. William Wiebler, alleging sexual abuse by him in the 1960s and 1970s in Clinton County.

John Schal, his brother, Michael Schal, and Jerzy Willus said Wiebler had sexual contact with them while they were minors, according to the lawsuit filed Thursday in Scott County District Court.

John Schal and childhood friend Willus allege incidents in 1965, when Wiebler was pastor at St. Mary’s Parish in Clinton, and Michael Schal alleges Wiebler molested him on visits to Clinton in 1973, when Wiebler was pastor at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Bettendorf.

The three men were members of St. Mary’s at the time, the lawsuit states.

It is the 13th lawsuit against the diocese since May 2003 to allege decades-old incidents of sexual abuse.

It is the first filed since the diocese released information from an internal review of sex abuse in priest personnel records, which led to Bishop William Franklin sending paperwork to the Vatican requesting the defrocking of Wiebler and four other priests.

Wiebler admitted acts of abuse with several minors, and the diocese received allegations of sexual abuse against the retired priest in the 1970s and 1980s, according to the diocesan report.

Wieber retired in 1991 and was admitted for residential treatment in Missouri in 2002, where he remains, the diocese said.

The diocese review located no records of reports of abuse by Wiebler prior to 1973, the diocese said in a press release issued Thursday.

“The Diocese didn’t have any records to show that Father Wiebler was abusing anyone prior to the time these claimants alleged they were abused,” the diocese said.

Attorney Craig Levien, who filed 10 similar lawsuits in Scott and Clinton counties, said there was evidence of complaints.

“There were complaints that date back to the time when these men were abused,” he said. “These people had contacted me before (the diocese report).”

The diocese said it remains open to mediation of these claims, rather than to resort to litigation.

Levien said the men discussed litigation with the diocese but could not agree on conditions dealing with the statute of limitations.

In the meantime, the diocese is seeking to dismiss some of the lawsuits by claiming they are too old.

A hearing on Tuesday set a June 3 court date for hearings on those statute of limitations arguments, court records show.

While some men fililng lawsuits against the diocese have chosen to remain anonymous, the Schals and Willus “thought that they were the victims, that they didn’t do anything wrong,” Levien said.


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