|Diocese to Turn
Sex Claims Over to Prosecutor
By Ann McGlynn
October 30, 2004
Any report of sexual abuse made against clergy or employees of the Catholic Diocese of Davenport will be turned over immediately to the Scott County Attorney’s office for criminal investigation and without screening by the diocese, according to an agreement announced Friday.
The agreement, signed by Bishop William Franklin and Scott County Attorney Bill Davis, applies to past and future abuse allegations. In addition, the names of clergy accused of abuse in a February diocesan report — both those publicly identified and those who were not — will be turned over to the county attorney’s office Monday morning, officials said.
The bishop “personally shall report” abuse allegations to the attorney’s office and encourage all clergy and employees to report possible abuse to the bishop and the attorney’s office, the agreement states.
Catholic officials in Brooklyn, N.Y., have a similar agreement that has been in effect for about a year with county prosecutors there, Davis said. He is hopeful other counties in the eastern Iowa diocese will enact similar agreements.
Davis acknowledged that the statute of limitations may come into play with past cases. And people who have died cannot be prosecuted.
“We want to assure the public it will come to this office right here … and there will be an investigation by this office,” he added.
The agreement, Bishop Franklin said, will make sure investigations “can be done correctly.”
The victims of recently settled claims against the diocese urged the agreement be reached, said Bob VanVooren, an adviser to the bishop. “We want (abuse) reported, we want it reported in a timely manner, we want it prosecuted and we want the perpetrator sent to jail,” he said.
Craig Levien, the Davenport attorney for more than three dozen victims of sexual abuse by priests who came to a $9 million settlement with the diocese earlier this week, still would like to see the diocese make full disclosure of the names of all priests accused of abuse.
Reports will include the name and address of the alleged perpetrator; the name, address and telephone number of the alleged victim and any known facts.
The county attorney’s office will investigate and inform the diocese of its findings within two weeks, the agreement states. If the allegation takes more than two weeks to investigate, the office will inform the diocese of the need for additional time.
The report and investigation “will be held in the strictest confidence during the course of the initial investigation,” the document states. The diocese will notify the county attorney if it considers reassigning an accused clergy member or employee.
If an allegation is unfounded, the Scott County Attorney’s office will return all documents and other materials given by the diocese, turn over all information and results of the investigation and will not release any information about the investigation.
If an allegation is found to be true, criminal charges could be pursued.
The agreement will not be binding on future county attorneys or bishops, the document states. The procedure, which officials called “a pilot program on a trial basis,” will be evaluated in two years.
Ann McGlynn can be contacted at (563) 383-2336 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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