Bishop Accountability
  Diocese Hearing Could Include Renowned Priest

By Todd Ruger
Quad-City Times
June 2, 2004

An expected all-day court hearing today on whether two sexual abuse lawsuits should continue against the Catholic Diocese of Davenport could include testimony from an internationally known priest, court records show.

The attorney for the plaintiffs said he has asked the court if the Rev. Tom Doyle, a Dominican priest who previously worked at the Vatican’s embassy in Washington, D.C., can testify to attempts to maintain secrecy of child sexual abuse cases by the Davenport diocese and various dioceses nationally.

Doyle, an expert in canon law, has provided expert legal advice in other civil cases against dioceses across the world, attorney Craig Levien said. The Rev. James Janssen, who is defending allegations that he sexually abused boys in the 1950s and 1960s, has indicated in court records he will argue against allowing Doyle to testify.

Attorneys from both sides will argue the diocese’s motion in Scott County District Court, contending that the lawsuits should be dismissed because they were filed after the statute of limitations expired.

The plaintiffs have responded to that motion with almost 300 pages of legal arguments and church documents they say shows a “chilling story” of a diocese coverup of sexual abuse more than 30 years ago by three diocese priests, including documents as recent as a February report from Bishop William Franklin.

The plaintiffs claim the diocese prevented the men from filing timely lawsuits by fraudulently concealing other abuse allegations against the priests — the Rev. James Janssen, the Rev. Francis Bass and the Rev. Theodore Geerts.

Janssen and other priests have denied all accusations of sexual abuse in court records.

Earlier this month, a Lee County district judge denied a similar attempt by the diocese to dismiss a sex-abuse lawsuit filed in that county, saying that statute of limitations issues would be best decided by a jury.


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