Suit Brought against Monsignor to Proceed

Fort Madison Daily Democrat [Iowa]
Downloaded May 6, 2004

A Lee County judge denied a motion to throw out a sexual abuse lawsuit that has been brought against Msgr. Drake Shafer, the Vicar General for the Diocese of Davenport.

Shafer had asked the court to throw out the lawsuit because it exceeded the statute of limitations.

A man, identified only as John Doe, accused Shafer in June of last year of sexual abuse stemming from a 1972 or 1973 incident, when the alleged victim was either 14 or 15. The statute of limitations for sexual abuse cases is one year after the alleged victim turns 18, but some exceptions are made for cases where the abuse is not discovered until after the alleged victim becomes an adult.

"An action for damages for injury suffered as a result of sexual abuse which occurred when the injured person was a child," the law states, "but not discovered until after the injured person is of the age of majority."

Doe claims he did not recall the abuse until January 2002 when he sought treatment for depression he said he suffered from his entire adult life. Under the Iowa Code, Doe had four years from the time of the discovery to file his lawsuit.

With the judge denying the motion to throw out the case, it will now go before a jury for a decision.

Doe claimed the abuse happened at St. Mary of the Assumption Church in Fort Madison. Shafer was a priest at St. Mary of the Assumption Church at that time. He also served at the Sacred Heart Church in Clinton and St. Ambrose University in Davenport before being named Vicar in July of 2000.

Shafer took a leave of absence from his duties after the suit was filed.

Doe is seeking more than $1.3 million in punitive damages. A trial date has not been set.


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