Vatican Defrocks Retired Dubuque Priest
William Schwartz Has Been Accused of Abusing Boys in the 1960s and '70s
By Shirley Ragsdale
Des Moines Register
January 6, 2006
The Vatican has defrocked a retired Iowa priest accused of sexually assaulting several Waterloo Columbus High School boys in the 1960s and '70s.
Dubuque Archbishop Jerome Hanus on Thursday announced that Pope Benedict XVI had removed William Schwartz from the clergy in November, and the process was finished in December.
Schwartz, 73, who is believed to be living in Arizona, is the second Iowa priest to be defrocked in the sex abuse scandal that has swept the U.S. Roman Catholic Church since 2000.
In 2004, Pope John Paul II removed James Janssen, 83, of Davenport from the priesthood. Fewer than 100 U.S. Roman Catholic priests have been defrocked in connection with child sexual abuse.
Swartz had pastoral and teaching assignments at a number of archdiocese parishes and schools in the '60s and '70s. Lawsuits against Schwartz and the archdiocese alleged that he befriended teenage boys, taking them on walks or drives where, in secluded areas, he sexually abused them. He was also accused of sexually abusing boys at parish rectories in Postville and Waterloo.
Steven Lown, a former Columbus High student, alleged in his lawsuit that Schwartz repeatedly abused him. Lown also accused the priest of orchestrating a nude prayer vigil that led to sexual abuse during a camping trip.
Hanus also said that retired priest William Goltz, 80, will be required to live a life of prayer and penance for sexually abusing several boys in the 1950s. The archdiocese said the pope declined Hanus' recommendation that Goltz, who lives in Prairie du Chien, Wis., be defrocked. The reasons given were Goltz's advanced age and because he was earlier removed from active ministry.
In 2004, Hanus sent the names of seven Roman Catholic priests accused of sexual abuse to the Vatican for possible punishment but declined release their names. On Thursday, he disclosed the names of 15 living and deceased priests who he said faced credible accusations of child sexual abuse.
The list did not include all priests in the archdiocese accused of abuse, however, angering victims and their allies, who have long sought a complete accounting of abusive priests.
"There is relatively nothing new in this report, as almost all these names were released earlier in the media," said Steve Theisen of Hudson, Iowa's director of Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests.
"The name of Rev. Albert Forster is the only one personally new to me. There are several other names that are known to us who were not listed."
This is the first time that Hanus has included priests' names in his annual report on the archdiocese's progress toward addressing child sexual abuse by clergy. In the past, he has given detailed statistical breakdowns of the numbers of allegations, victims and priests. In 2003, he reported that in the past 52 years, 26 priests were accused of sexually abusing minors.
This year's report says that additional credible accusations have been made against other priests, but details about those priests were not included for several reasons:
• The allegation has not been sustained, proven or admitted to, or has not been adjudicated by civil court or ecclesiastical process.
• Information was received through medical reports, which are governed by privacy restrictions.
• Reports were received from other sources bound to secrecy by church or civil law. Or in a few cases, the sacramental seal of confession was involved in the report of abuse.
"Up until this year, we tried to be judicious" about reporting the names of accused priests, said Joyce Connors, director of the archdiocesan office for protection of children and young people.
"It would be irresponsible to publish when someone is first accused until some formal process to prove it is true," Connors said.
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