Bishop Accountability
  Former Altar Boys File Abuse Lawsuit
The Three Men Say a Former Davenport Priest Sexually Abused Them When They Were Teenagers

By Shirley Ragsdale
Des Moines Register
March 19, 2004

Three men who were altar boys at St. Mary Catholic Church in Davenport on Thursday sued the Rev. William F. Wiebler and the Davenport Catholic Diocese, alleging that Wiebler sexually abused them.

John Schal, Michael Schal and Jerzy Willus claim that Wiebler, on more than one occasion, made "increasing overt and direct sexual contact" with the boys when they were teenagers. All were Clinton County residents at the time of the abuse but live elsewhere now, according to their lawyer, Craig Levien.

Wiebler is one of five priests whom the Davenport Diocese is seeking to have removed from the priesthood because of what diocese officials say are credible abuse allegations.

The diocese on Thursday issued a statement acknowledging the lawsuit and noting that Wiebler's last position with the diocese was in 1985. After a leave of absence, he moved to Mississippi to be editor of Sacred Heart League publications. He retired in 1991.

In 2002, Wiebler was admitted for residential treatment at a facility in Missouri. He continues to live there, according to the diocese.

Bishop William Franklin in 2002 ordered Wiebler to continue treatment; refrain from contact with minors, regardless of the setting; and "avoid all places and situations that from past experience have been occasions for serious temptation in the areas of sexual morality."

John Schal and Willus allege that Wiebler began molesting them in 1965. Michael Schal alleges that the priest began sexually abusing him in 1973.

"The diocese didn't have any records to show that Father Wiebler was abusing anyone prior to the time these claimants allege they were abused," said diocese spokesman David Montgomery.


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