Bishop Accountability
  Three Men Sue Former Davenport Priest
Accuse of Sexual Abuse in '60s

By Stephen Elliott
Moline Dispatch
March 19, 2004

Three men have sued a retired Davenport priest and the Catholic Diocese of Davenport, claiming sexual abuse and neglect.

Brothers John and Michael Schal and Jerzy Willus filed the seven-count lawsuit Thursday in Scott County District Court against the diocese and Rev. William F. Wiebler.

Rev. Wiebler is accused of sexually abusing the three starting in 1965. They were members of St. Mary's Parish in Clinton when the alleged abuse occurred. Rev. Wiebler was an assistant pastor there from 1964 to 1967, according to the lawsuit.

John Schal and Mr. Willus were abused while Rev. Wiebler was still at St. Mary's; Michael Schal was abused by Rev. Wiebler starting in 1973, when Rev. Wiebler was a priest at Our Lady of Lourdes in Bettendorf, according to the lawsuit.

The diocese, the lawsuit claims, was or should have been aware of the alleged abuse.

The men are seeking unspecified punitive damages from Rev. Wiebler and the diocese.

Rev. Wiebler was an assistant pastor at Sts. Peter and Paul in Clear Creek, Iowa, from 1955 to 1957; on the faculty at St. Ambrose Academy in Davenport from 1957 to 1958; a chaplain at the St. Vincent Home in Davenport in 1957; on the faculty at Davenport's Assumption High School from 1958 to 1964; an assistant pastor at St. Mary's in Iowa City from 1967 to 1969; pastor at St. Boniface in Farmington, Iowa, and St. Mary's in String Prairie, Iowa, from 1969 to 1971; pastor at Our Lady of Lourdes from 1971 to 1980; and pastor at St. Mary of the Visitation in Ottumwa from 1980 to 1985, according to the lawsuit.

He took a leave of absence in 1985, and retired in 1991.

Davenport attorney Craig Levien, who is representing the Schals and Mr. Willus, said the retired priest now lives at a treatment center in St. Louis.

In a press release, the diocese said it is reviewing the claims made in the lawsuit, and that it has located no records of reports of abuse by Rev. Wiebler prior to 1973.

The diocese said Rev. Wiebler took the leave of absence in 1985 to become editor of Sacred Heart League publications in Mississippi.

He is one of five priests the Diocese of Davenport has asked the Vatican to defrock over allegations of sexual abuse and possession of child pornography.

Mr. Levien said in recent years 15 people have sued the diocese for alleged sexual misconduct by priests. He represents 13 of them.

Staff writer Stephen Elliott can be reached at (309) 786-6441, ext. 247, or by e-mail at


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