Nun Accused of Sexual Abuse

By Anthony Welsch
KIMT - NewsChannel 3 [Iowa]
April 12, 2006

You probably remember Steve Theisen. We talked with him back in February about what he claims to have gone through as a fourth grader.

Today, he publicly named and asked for an investigation into Sister Mary Philip, who Theisen says abused him in the 1960's.

"Basically, you had a late 30's, early 40 year old nun with her tongue in a 9 year old boy repeatedly after school, on weekends," Theisen said.

While Theisen says his abuse happened in Eastern Iowa, Sister Mary Philip served two stints at the Visitation Parish in Stacyville, just east of Osage.

We spoke with that church's pastor Wednesday afternoon- He says until today, he'd never even heard of Mary Philip.

Theisen is asking the diocese of Dubuque to move forward with a third investigation into the nun. He claims the two investigations before this were flawed; one was by an inexperienced investigator and the other was a personal friend of his.

The Archbishop says they've hired outside investigators who have come back with results that have been no cause for action.

Still, Theisen says today's children motivate him to keep pushing.

"Right now she's just a nice little old nun some unsuspected mother in the neighborhood might ask her to watch the kids. We don't know what's going to happen and the kids are at risk," Theisen said.

The archdiocese in Dubuque says they will take a look at Theisen's claims again at their next meeting. Whether or not it warrants another investigation is something they say they'll have to look into.

KIMT Newschannel 3 did try to get in touch with Sister Philip, or as she now goes by, Sister Josephine Schmitz. But when we called her home, a woman answered the phone and hung up after asking who we were.

While several priests in our area have already been publicly accused of abuse, this is the first case made public involving a nun from our area.

The President of an abuse survivor group (SNAP) says it's not nearly as common to find victims of nuns coming forward.

She thinks this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Once victims of priests came forward, it started to snowball. More and more came out with their stories.

The church does have advocates available to help people who feel they've been wronged. They advertise available help in nearly every Catholic Church.

The Dubuque Diocese is no stranger to accusations of chuch abuse, especially in recent months.

You might remember back in February, the Diocese reached a five million dollar settlement with a group of alleged victims.

Eight priests were named in that settlment, several of them spent time in North Iowa and Mason City.

A list of those priests is available via our website, just click on links we mentioned.


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