Bishop Accountability

Parishes React to Inquiry
Diocese: Source is credible

By Gigi Wood
Iowa City Press-Citizen
August 30, 2004

Church leaders during Mass on Sunday announced that a priest who served in Iowa City and taught at Regina High School four years ago is under investigation by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Davenport for sex abuse.

No criminal charges have been filed against the Rev. Paul Deyo, who lived in Iowa City from 1991 to 2000. The diocese released his name Saturday in a press release by Deacon David Montgomery, a spokesman for the diocese.

Deyo is accused of committing sex abuse in 1998 against a minor in Johnson County.

Deyo served at St. Patrick's from 1991 to 1992, St. Peter in Cosgrove and St. Mary in Oxford from 1996 to 1997, and at St. Wenceslaus from 1998 to 2000. He taught at Regina High School from 1991 to 2000.

Priests made the announcement about Deyo during the weekend and prayed for everyone involved.

"This comes to all of us as a real shock," the Rev. Michael Phillips said during one of his Sunday services. "I know many of us are hurt, disillusioned, mystified and feel betrayed."

Phillips replaced Deyo when he left St. Wenceslaus.

"I knew Father Deyo," Phillips said. "He was extremely nice to me when I came here and helped my transition."

Phillips talked about the situation at length during his sermon.

"There are hurt feelings on all sides and great, great pain," Phillips said. "Father Deyo gave this parish a wonderful service. He converted some of you. He married you. He baptized you. You loved him, I know, and I did and still do."

"So let's withhold judgment. God's help comes to all."

The statute of limitations has not yet expired on the alleged incident, and Johnson County Attorney J. Patrick White said last week that his office was continuing an informal information-gathering process regarding the alleged incident. White could not be reached Sunday night by telephone for additional comment.

Should White decide to proceed, it would be the first prosecution of a priest in Johnson County since 1989.

St. Wenceslaus parishioners described Deyo as a "great man" who "gave a great homily" and "loved to teach."

Officials with Regina Catholic schools are awaiting word from the Davenport diocese on how to instruct students and parents on the matter, school board member John Gilroy said Saturday.

Regina High School Principal Ray Pechous could not be reached for comment Sunday night.

His name was released to the public to help the community, said diocese lawyer Rand Wonio.

"This isn't about legalities, this is about helping people," he said. "We're hoping people will come forward, if there is anyone out there. Hopefully, there isn't."

No one, except the one Johnson County minor, has come forward with accusations, Wonio said.

"But the allegation came from a person we consider to be credible," he said.

Victims and parishioners can contact the diocese's victim assistance coordinator, Tom Crowley, at 563-349-5002 with concerns.

Crowley said Sunday he has received the same number of telephone calls as usual. He declined to speak about the case specifically.

"I'm just here to serve the victims," he said.

No other programs or services are in place for victims, he said.

"At this point, nothing else is in place," he said. "I can come see them if they want, or they can come see me."

More information should be available on additional services for victims in the next several days, he said. Cards with Crowley's contact information are available at area Catholic churches.

Deyo, who was ordained in 1976, served most recently as principal of Bishop Heelan High School in Sioux City from 2000 to 2003.

Deyo also spent 1984 to 1991 at Assumption High School in Davenport, was in Rome from 1978 to 1984, and was an associate pastor at St. Mary in Clinton from 1976 to 1978.

He has been restricted from active duty since last year and currently is caring for his father in Keokuk. A telephone number listed for Paul Deyo in Keokuk was disconnected Saturday.

The diocese's Review Board ordered the investigation after learning of the allegation in July 2003. The incident was first reported to Assistant Johnson County attorney Anne Lahey, though the man who alleged the abuse said he did not want criminal charges filed.


The following guidelines should be used when responding to children who say they have been sexually abused:

What to say

• If a child even hints in a vague way that sexual abuse has occurred, encourage him or her to talk freely. Don’t make judgmental comments.

• Show understanding and take seriously what the child is saying. Child and adolescent psychiatrists found that children who are listened to recover better than those who are not.

• Assure children they did the right thing in telling. A child who is close to the abuser may feel guilty about revealing the secret.

• Tell children they are not to blame for the sexual abuse.

• Finally, offer the child protection, and promise that you will promptly take steps to see that the abuse stops.

What to do

• Report any suspicion of child abuse. If the abuse is within the family, report it to the local Child Protection Agency. If the abuse is outside of the family, report it to the police or district attorney’s office.

• Parents should consult with their pediatrician or family doctor, who may refer them to a physician who specializes in evaluating and treating sexual abuse.

• Children who have been sexually abused should be evaluated by a child and adolescent psychiatrist or other qualified mental health professional to find out how the sexual abuse has affected them and to determine whether ongoing professional help is necessary.

Source: American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

Reach Gigi Wood at 339-7360 or at


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