Dead Priest Added to List of Accused
Victims Group Says It Had to Publicize Man's Name
By Mary Nevans-Pederson
Telegraph Herald [Dubuque IA]
October 10, 2006
The name of a dead Catholic priest was added to the Archdiocese of Dubuque's list of clerics accused of sexual abuse last month, but a victims support group says it was only because it publicized the man's history.
The Rev. Robert Marcantonio, who died in 1999, was accused in several lawsuits of abusing teenage boys in Rhode Island before 1971. That year, the priest enrolled at Iowa State University in Ames.
Former Dubuque Archbishop James Byrne was told of Marcantonio's "problems" but gave his permission for the priest to relocate to the Dubuque Archdiocese and to function as a priest in Ames while he studied at ISU. Marcantonio was to receive therapy from another priest, the Rev. Bernard Du Val, a former psychiatrist who offered therapy to Dubuque archdiocesan priests.
"Now it is known that the recidivism rate for a pedophile is very high, so now we would never take an abusive priest from another diocese," added Monsignor James Barta, vicar general.
But while ministering to families at St. Cecilia Parish in Ames, Marcantonio is said to
have continued to molest boys. Several men who were abused by the priest as boys have come forward. One will tell his story in Wednesday's Telegraph Herald.
So if the diocese knew about Marcantonio, why was his name not on the published list of accused priests on the Dubuque Archdiocesan Web site? That's a question members of the Iowa chapter of Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests want answered. The group handed out leaflets at two Ames parishes on Sept. 17, naming Marcantonio as an accused sexual abuser. On Sept. 22, the priest's name showed up on the archdiocese's list.
"It's a fine balance to determine whether putting a name out does more harm than good," Barta said. "If nobody knows about it and the person is not in a position to abuse again or is dead, why put his name on the list? How does that help anybody?" he said.
The archdiocese's policy is to only publish the names of clerics who have been publicly identified as sexual abusers.
The victims group believes the names of all priests, nuns or monks who have been accused of sex abuse should be made public.
"You have publicly claimed that you would notify faith communities of known sexual predators. Your failure ... leaves us wondering what other known, proven and credibly accused molesters you may still be hiding," wrote group members to archdiocesan officials on Monday.
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