6 New Sex-Abuse Claims Brought to Davenport Diocese

By Todd Ruger
Quad-City Times [Davenport IA]
July 25, 2005

Six men have brought new claims of sexual abuse by priests in the 1960s and 1970s to the Catholic Diocese of Davenport in the past month for mediation, their attorney said.

They are among the first claims brought to the diocese since it paid $9 million to settle 37 civil claims in October, and include two priests not previously named by the diocese and believed to be deceased, attorney Craig Levien said.

Part of that settlement's non-monetary terms requires future claimants to attempt to mediate the claims instead of filing lawsuits.

David Montgomery of the diocese said there have been a few other claims brought to the diocese since the settlement, but "there hasn't been a flood."

Four of the new claims are against three priests who already have faced similar suits and who Bishop William Franklin already asked the Vatican to remove from the priesthood due to credible allegations.

There are two claims against the Rev. William Wiebler, an admitted molester who currently faces a number of lawsuits alleging sexual abuse and one claim against the Rev. Francis Bass, who recently settled three similar cases against him.

One claim is against former priest James Janssen, who was removed from the priesthood by the Vatican before losing a $1.9 million settlement at a jury trial on a similar lawsuit.

Another claim was made by a man who claims Father Herman Bongers sexually abused him at St. Vincent's orphanage in 1966. Another man claims a priest of the Redemptorist order, Raymond C. Kalter, abused him at St. Alphonsus in Davenport in 1959.

Levien said there is no set timetable for the claims, other than the diocese will likely investigate the claims and potentially interview the claimants before starting mediation talks.

"Some of these, the process of our investigating has occurred over several months," Levien said. "Some of these people have contacted the diocese and some have not."

Levien said it was probably information seen in the media that has brought them forward now.

"Some have been troubled by it and kept it a secret all their lives," and are unable to keep that secrecy, he said.

Additionally, a new lawsuit filed by a male plaintiff accuses the Rev. Lawrence D. Soens, who later became the bishop of the Diocese of Sioux City in Iowa, of abusing him beginning in 1963.

Adding the new claims to a report issued in January by the diocese means at least 103 people have made more than 108 allegations that 25 members of the clergy sexually abused them as children.

The diocese's report included 48 allegations of decades-old abuse by 41 people since February 2004, when the diocese first reported on all accusations since 1950 in its internal review of personnel files while facing mounting pressure from sexual abuse lawsuits.