Priest on Leave during Sex Abuse Investigation

By Tom Shaw
February 2, 2007

Council Bluffs - A priest and religion teacher at St. Albert Catholic High School in Council Bluffs has been placed on leave after he was accused of sexually abusing a minor - a former student.

The Rev. Phillip Hobt left the school Thursday after the allegation was made Monday to the Diocese of Des Moines. The diocese contacted the Council Bluffs Police Department and the head of the Diocese's Allegation Review Committee, according to the diocese. The review committee system was set up by U.S. bishops in 2002 following the rash of priest abuse scandals.

Based on those conversations and a written report on the allegation, Hobt was placed on leave by Bishop Joseph Charron. A call to the home number listed for Hobt was not returned this morning.

The allegation does not involve a current St. Albert student, said School President Brian Osborne.

Osborne said the news hit students, teachers, parents and others at the school hard.

"He is a well-liked person in this community as a whole," Osborne said. "As you could expect, there are some folks who are very upset by this ... It's not good."

A spokeswoman for the diocese, Amy Cox, said additional details were being withheld at the request of the alleged victim.

"The bishop took action in the best interests of the children," Cox said.

Hobt teaches religion at St. Albert High School and has been assigned to St. Albert since 1995. He also serves as an associate pastor at St. Peter's and St. Patrick's Catholic Churches in Council Bluffs. Hobt was ordained in 1992.

He participated Thursday morning in a Mass to celebrate Catholic Schools Week, Osborne said. He was asked to leave the school Thursday afternoon and a notice was given to parents.

Osborne said he was called at home Sunday by someone asking how to file a complaint if there was "a negative incident involving a member of the clergy." Osborne directed that person, who said the call was being made on behalf of someone else, to the Diocese of Des Moines.

Osborne was called Monday morning by the diocese. Osborne was not given details of the alleged incident, other than that it involved Hobt.


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