New Priest Abuse Suit Filed

By Pat Kinney
Courier [Oelwein IA]
June 20, 2005

OELWEIN --- A third sexual abuse civil suit has been filed against a former Oelwein priest over alleged incidents in the mid-1950s.

The suit filed Tuesday in Fayette County District Court by a client identified as John Doe IV alleges the Rev. William Goltz sexually abused him in 1954 when the plaintiff was 12 years old and Goltz was assigned to Sacred Heart Parish in Oelwein.

The suit alleges Goltz drove the plaintiff to a location along the Wapsipinicon River near Independence and abused him while allowing him to help drive the vehicle. Goltz and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Dubuque are named as co-defendants in the action. The suit alleges the archdiocese either "knew, or should have known, of Goltz' propensity to and intention to sexually abuse young men." The suit seeks unspecified actual and punitive damages. It is the third such suit filed in Fayette County against Goltz this year.

Previous suits allege then-Dubuque Archbishop Leo Binz conducted a formal church or canonical trial at that time, found Goltz guilty of similar incidents and removed him from responsibilities but did not report the incidents to civil authorities.

After "an extended period of sick leave" over about 12 years at a religious retreat in New Mexico and at abbeys and rectories in Wisconsin and Ohio as well as Iowa, Goltz was reassigned to eastern Iowa parishes over about 18 years. Those included a stint at St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Waterloo from 1978-80. The archdiocesan directory lists him as retired by the early 1990s.

Oelwein attorney Richard Buffington filed the latest suit in conjunction with Waterloo attorneys Chad Swanson and Tom Staack, who represent clients filing previous suits against the archdiocese and Goltz.

The case is the 16th clergy sex abuse suit filed against the archdiocese within the past year. Staack and Swanson have been involved in all but one. The archdiocese settled one of those cases out of court.

While archdiocesan officials had not yet been notified of the latest filing, Joyce Connors of the archdiocesan Office for the Protection of Children issued the following statement:

"First, and most importantly, the archdiocese wants to apologize to anyone abused by a member of the clergy. We acknowledge that sexual abuse by clergy is a reality and we find it absolutely reprehensible. Unfortunately, clergy sexual abuse in the past was not handled well by the church," Connors said.

She invited anyone who feels they were abused by the clergy to contact the archdiocese or one of its victim assistance coordinators for help.

Steve Theisen of Hudson, co-founder of the Northeast Iowa chapter of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, has called for the archdiocese to disclose documented abusers and also encouraged victims to seek civil remedies.