S.D. Man Alleges Abuse at Iowa Church in 1960s

By Jill Callison
Argus Leader (Sioux Falls, SD)
August 21, 2004

A Yankton man has sued the Catholic Diocese of Sioux City, Iowa, alleging he was sexually abused by a northwest Iowa priest in the early 1960s.

The lawsuit is the 20th filed against the Sioux City Diocese but the first against the Rev. Everett Apt, who died in 1985.

William Fisher states in the lawsuit that Apt abused him while he served as an altar boy in the Alvord, Iowa, Catholic church.

At the time, Fisher lived in Sioux Falls, but his family traveled to Alvord to attend Mass. After asking Fisher to serve as an altar boy fill-in, Apt would travel to Sioux Falls, pick up Fisher and take him to Alvord for the weekend, according to the lawsuit.

Fisher is suing the diocese for negligent supervision and conspiracy. As a result of the alleged sexual abuse, Fisher said, he suffers mental anguish, pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life.

As far back as the early 1950s, the Sioux City Diocese knew Apt was sexually abusing children but continued to assign him to different parishes, the lawsuit claims. Whenever the diocese learned that Apt's ongoing sexual abuse might become public, the diocese transferred him, the suit states.

A press release from the Catholic Diocese of Sioux City said it first learned of the allegations against the priest, whom it identified as the Rev. E. Everette Apt, in May and has tried to work with Fisher's lawyer since then.

The lawsuit says Fisher attended a Catholic funeral in Larchwood, Iowa, on July 27. A Catholic priest approached him and told Fisher he was "no longer welcome on church property as he was a complaining victim of Catholic sexual abuse." That demand inflicted renewed pain and humiliation, the lawsuit says.

Lawyer R. Scott Rhinehart of Sioux City, who is representing Fisher, would not say whether the Larchwood incident prompted Fisher to file the lawsuit.

"I think it was just one of many factors," Rhinehart said. "He just felt it was time to confront this issue as a victim."

Jim Wharton, director of communications for the Sioux City Diocese, said his office has been trying to look into the Larchwood incident. There was no funeral in Larchwood on July 27, he said.

"We have not been able to find someone who made that statement," Wharton said.

Rhinehart said his office has filed the other 19 lawsuits against the diocese, all of which named the Rev. George McFadden as the abuser in Sioux City and other northwest Iowa parishes. Four of the lawsuits have been settled, Rhinehart said.

Reach Jill Callison at 331-2307 to get help

The Catholic Diocese of Sioux City said in a press release that it will continue to work with anyone who might have been a victim of abuse by clergy. The victim assistance coordinator may be reached at 712-279-5610 or toll-free at 866-435-4397.

People who have been victims of abuse by someone in the Catholic Church also may contact the Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls. Call Sister Mary Carole Curran, victim response coordinator, at 988-3775, or Bishop Robert Carlson, Chancellor Jerry Klein or Vice Chancellor Nancy Werner at 334-9861.


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