St. Mary's to Pay $650k in Settlement
Diocese Will Pay Total of $17.5 Million

By Kathryn Fiegen
Iowa City Press-Citizen
February 11, 2008

St. Mary's Church in Iowa City will have to contribute $650,000 to help pay a $37 million settlement between the Davenport Diocese and people who allegedly were sexually abused by priests, the church told its parishioners Sunday.

St. Mary's, 302 E. Jefferson St., has been chosen because four individuals in the suit claim they were sexually abused by Msgr. Carl Meinberg, a pastor there from 1940 to 1967, according to a church bulletin posted online.

Father Kenneth Kuntz didn't return messages seeking comment. The bulletin said the church's Finance Council has agreed to pay the money pending verification of the potential claims and approval of the release documents. The contribution will come from the parish's savings.

The Davenport Diocese, which covers 22 counties in southeast Iowa, will use contributions from four of its parishes to help pay the settlement. The Quad-City Times reported that St. Anthony's in Davenport will pay $1 million and Our Lady of Lourdes in Bettendorf will also contribute, although a dollar amount has not been established. A fourth parish has not been named.

In total, the diocese will pay $17.5 million toward the settlement and its insurance company, Travelers Insurance, will pay the rest, according to information on the diocese's Web site. It is seeking $5.9 million from the parishes and St. Vincent Home Corp., a diocese-based organization, and already has raised $4 million by giving St. Vincent Center, its headquarters, to the creditors.

The Davenport Diocese still is exploring options to raise another $7.7 million to cover its share of the settlement.

The four parishes were chosen because they had the most serious claims against them, the diocese's Web site said. The settlement protects the Davenport Diocese from future lawsuits filed by claimants before the diocese declared bankruptcy in fall 2006.

Abuse allegations also named Bishop Lawrence Soens, who was principal at Regina High School from 1958 to 1967. The allegations, made in 2002, came from a former student of Regina High School. A church investigation found that Soens' behavior was inappropriate but not sexual in nature.

The Rev. Paul Deyo, who taught at Regina in the 1990s, also was named in the lawsuit. He is accused of sexually assaulting a minor in Johnson County in 1998, although no criminal charges have been filed against him.

Deyo served at St. Wenceslaus and St. Patrick's in Iowa City. On Sunday, Fr. Rudy Juarez said St. Patrick's has not been notified that it will have to contribute. Fr. Michael Phillips at St. Wenceslaus did not return messages seeking comment.

In February 2004, the diocese asked the Vatican to defrock three Iowa City priests accused of sexual abuse, two of whom served at St. Mary's.

Richard Poster, who served as parochial vicar from December 1992 to August 1995 at St. Mary's, pleaded guilty in August 2003 to a federal count of possession of child pornography. He was sentenced to one year in prison and ordered to pay a $3,000 fine.

William F. Wiebler, who served as an assistant pastor from August 1967 to August 1969 at St. Mary's, was the source of allegations of sexual abuse that dated back to the 1970s and '80s. Wiebler admitted to several acts of abuse with several minors. He retired in Ottumwa in 1991.

The third priest was Francis Bass, who worked as the lead pastor from January 1978 to August 1981 at St. Patrick's Church. In 1992, the diocese received a report that Bass had sexually abused a minor in 1964. In 1998, another report said he had abused another minor in the 1960s. Bass retired in October 1992 and lives in Davenport.



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