More Sex Abuse Complaints Filed

By Bill Shea
The Messenger
March 29, 2008

New sexual abuse complaints against a former Fort Dodge priest and a broadcaster who later became a priest emerged Friday.

In a lawsuit, Joseph Kestel, of Minnesota, accuses the Rev. John Kurzak and John Perdue of getting him drunk and molesting him while he was a young man considering the priesthood in the early 1980s.

Kestel's case, filed in Woodbury County District Court, also names the Diocese of Sioux City.

It is the second case filed in two weeks against Kurzak, Perdue and the diocese. Last week, Jeff Steinke, a former Fort Dodge resident now living in Billings, Mont., filed a similar lawsuit.

Kurzak was an assistant pastor at Corpus Christi Church, 402 N. Eighth St., from 1979 to 1981. He joined the Air Force in August 1981 to become a chaplain. He is still in the Air Force and is now a colonel.

Perdue, of Perry, is a former radio station news director who was ordained in 1985. He has not served as a priest since 1987.

A phone listing for Kestel couldn't be found. He is represented by attorneys Patrick Hopkins, of West Des Moines, and R. Scott Rhinehart, of Sioux City. Efforts to contact them Friday evening were unsuccessful. They are also representing Steinke.

Perdue said Friday evening that he was not aware of Kestel's lawsuit. He declined to comment on Steinke's case.

Diocese officials made no public comment on the new lawsuit. When Steinke's case was filed, the diocese issued a brief statement saying it had been informed of the case.

Kestel grew up in the small Sac County community of Schaller and was a member of St. Joseph Church there. In the fall of 1981 he became a candidate for seminary studies that could have led to him becoming a priest, according to the lawsuit.

The complaint states that Kestel met Perdue, who was a seminary student, in January 1982. In the spring of 1982, according to the lawsuit, Perdue invited Kestel to his hometown of Emmetsburg. There, the document states, the two went bar-hopping and Kestel got drunk from drinks bought for him by Perdue. Because he couldn't drive, Kestel had to stay overnight at Perdue's home. The lawsuit states Perdue "engaged in inappropriate sexual contact and performed unwelcomed sexual acts" upon Kestel.

According to the lawsuit, Perdue introduced Kurzak to Kestel. The document doesn't indicate when the introduction occurred.

The lawsuit claims that Perdue and Kurzak hosted a series of "weekend get-togethers" at which they gathered young men. The lawsuit alleges that these get-togethers started with card games, escalated to drunkenness and the viewing of pornographic movies and sometimes ended with sexual contact involving Perdue, Kurzak and the young men.

Contact Bill Shea at (515) 573-2141 or


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