Council Bluffs Priest Accused of Abuse

By Shirley Ragsdale
Des Moines Register
February 2, 2007

The Des Moines Catholic Diocese on Friday announced it has placed a Council Bluffs priest on leave following allegations of sexual abuse of a child.

Before being ordered to cease his priestly duties, the Rev. Phillip Hobt has since 1995 served at Saint Albert Catholic Schools. The allegation of abuse was made by a former Saint Albert student, according to the diocese.

Following diocesan policy, the allegation was first reported to police. Based on a written report of the abuse, Bishop Joseph L. Charron took action to bar Hobt from functioning publicly as a priest.

"The allegation comes as a shock to all of us," Charron said. "I understand there will be anger and grief among those who have worked closely with Father Hobt.

However, our first priority must be in creating a safe environment for children who have been placed in our care."

Victims advocates said the diocese has taken responsible action.

"But there are almost always other victims and witnesses," said David Clohessy, national director of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. "We hope they'll find strength and courage to report to police officials, not church officials. Child abuse is a crime and it needs to be handled that way."

The Des Moines diocese in September 2003 named three priests accused of sexual abuse of children, including a popular Dowling Catholic High School president, and announced they had been removed from ministry. In the time since, Albert Wilwerding died, John Ryan and Richard Wagner, the former Dowling president, reluctantly agreed to be laicized. The Vatican on Nov. 16

Saint Albert Schools is served by eight Catholic parishes in the Council Bluffs area and is operated under the direction of the Council Bluffs Area Catholic Board of Education,

Hobt was ordained in 1992. He served for three years at St. Augustin Parish in Des Moines. In 1995, he began serving at Sant Albert Catholic Schools in Council Bluffs.

Do you have information about the accusations? Register religion editor Shirley Ragsdale can be reached at (515) 284-8208 or


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