Priest Abuse Suits Settled

By Dave Franzman
February 21, 2006

(Dubuque – KCRG) -- Twenty pending lawsuits against the Archdiocese of Dubuque were settled for a payment of $5 million to victims and other considerations.

The cases all involved sexual abuse of minors by former or deceased priests.

The settlement was announced on Tuesday both by church officials and Waterloo attorneys representing the victims. The deal involved 12 men and eight women and many of the cases date to sexual abuse the victims suffered as children in the 1950's and 60's.

At a news conference, attorneys representing the victims say the "global deal" came after private mediation sessions with Archbishop Jerome Hanus last week. Some of the cases were set to go to trial soon. Others were scheduled for federal court or state court later this year or next.

Aside from the $5 million payment, the Archdiocese agreed to pay for counseling for all 20 victims and will list verified complaints against priests on the Archdiocese website.

One victim, Debbie Gindhart of Waterloo, said "It was a great relief. I'm glad it's settled. It was a healing process for me and I hope the ease of it helps reach out to other victims."

The cases settled included claims against nine former priests in Eastern Iowa. Former priest William Schwartz is the only one of the priests still living. Schwartz was defrocked by the pope for his abuse actions.

This is the second multi million dollar settlement by an Iowa diocese in the past 15 months.

In 2004, the Davenport Diocese paid $9 million to settle 37 separate claims.


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