More Abuse Suits Filed against Former Waterloo Priests

By Pat Kinney
The Courier [Waterloo and Cedar Falls IA]
April 29, 2005

WATERLOO - Two more people, claiming to have been sexually abused by priests who served at Waterloo parishes in the 1960s and '70s, filed lawsuits against the Archdiocese of Dubuque this week.

One of the suits alleges the late former Dubuque Archbishop James J. Byrne moved at least one priest from parish to parish in the 1960s as abuse allegations surfaced against him, only to have that priest re-offend.

That suit, filed Tuesday in Delaware County by a plaintiff identified as Jane Doe II, alleges the late Rev. Patrick McElliott abused her at St. Patrick's Parish in Colesburg in 1964, when she was 18. That was after then-Archbishop Byrne had removed McElliott from St. John's Catholic Church in Waterloo in 1963 for similar incidents.

Two other women, Kathleen Wach Guertin and Deborah A. Gindhart, each have filed suits in U.S. District Court in Cedar Rapids within the past two months, alleging McElliott abused them when he was at St. John's in the early 1960s and they were students at the parish school. Both are former Waterloo residents now living out of state.

McElliott served at St. John's from 1954 to 1963 and died in Waterloo in 1987. Byrne was Dubuque archbishop from 1962 to 1983 and died in 1996. The plaintiff named in the new suit, involving the alleged abuse in Colesburg, lives in Dubuque County, according to the suit.

A separate suit, filed April 21 in Fayette County District Court, by a male plaintiff identified as John Doe III, alleges the Rev. William A. Goltz abused him "on multiple occasions" in 1954 when Goltz was assigned to Sacred Heart Church in Oelwein. It is the second Fayette County suit alleging abuse by Goltz in Oelwein in 1954. Another anonymous plaintiff filed suit in March.

The new Fayette case alleges that then-Dubuque Archbishop Leo Binz, Byrne's predecessor, conducted a formal church or canonical trial, found Goltz guilty and removed him from responsibilities, but did not report the incidents to civil authorities.

After "an extended period of sick leave" at a religious retreat in New Mexico, according to the lawsuit, Goltz was reassigned to eastern Iowa parishes over about 18 years, including a stint at St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Waterloo from 1978-80.

The new Fayette County suit also seeks unspecified actual and punitive damages.

Archdiocesan officials had not yet seen the new suits. However, in response to the first Goltz suit, Dubuque Archbishop Jerome Hanus said then-Archbishop Binz had followed required procedures in place in 1954 by removing the priest and ordering a church trial.

Also, in a previous e-mail to the Courier, Hanus said of Byrne, "In general it was his practice to send priests away for what at that time was considered appropriate care or even 'treatment.' For his time, Archbishop Byrne was open to the insights of psychology and mental health treatment. He also relied heavily on spiritual programs, retreats, prayer and other traditional forms of 'penance and conversion.' He believed strongly that people could change. His beliefs, I venture to say, were fortified by some mental health experts at that time.

"Today, the opinions are quite different," Hanus said.

Contact Pat Kinney at (319) 291-1484 or


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