Deceased Columbus Priest on Abuser List

By Pat Kinney
May 5, 2008

WATERLOO — A deceased priest who played a prominent role in Roman Catholic education in Waterloo-Cedar Falls in the 1970s had been added to the Archdiocese of Dubuque's list of priests accused of sexually abusing minors.

The Rev. William McLaughlin

The Rev. William G. "Bill" McLaughlin, who served 12 years at Columbus High School — five of them as director of Catholic education in Waterloo-Cedar Falls — was added to the archdiocese's "Table of Accused Priests" after a claim involving him was settled in January. He was accused of abusing several female minors in the 1960s.

McLaughlin served at Sacred Heart Church in Rockwell from 1959 to 1964, his first assignment after ordination, and at Columbus from 1964 to 1976. While at Rockwell, McLaughlin also served on the faculty at Newman High School in Mason City, according to Courier files.

Archdiocesan officials would not specify when or where the alleged abuse occurred.

"The archdiocese strives to protect the privacy of victims. In order to do this, no further details about Father McLaughlin will be shared unless the victims authorize or ask us to do this," officials said.

According to Courier files, McLaughlin served as a counselor and guidance director his first seven years at Columbus and as metro director of Catholic education from 1971-76. He then served as director of religious education for the entire archdiocese until 1987 and worked at several Dubuque-area parishes. He then was assigned to Sacred Heart parish in Maquoketa and was pastor there when he died after a brief illness at age 59.

The January settlement of the claim against McLaughlin was separate from a $4.7 million settlement of claims involving 18 victims and nine priests announced in April, an attorney for those victims said.

Typically, accused priests' names are added to the list after accusations become public or a settlement requires they be named. Steve Theisen of Hudson, chairman of the Iowa chapter of Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, informed news media of McLaughlin's inclusion on the list and criticized archdiocesan officials for quietly adding him. Public disclosure encourages more victims to come forward and seek help, Theisen believes.

McLaughlin, a native of Dubuque, was ordained at the American College of Louvain in Belgium after graduating from Loras College in Dubuque. He also attended Creighton University in Omaha, Neb., the University of Iowa in Iowa City, University of Louisville in Louisville, Ky., and the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls.

According to Courier files, McLaughlin worked with blind children in France and refugee children from behind the Iron Curtain in Germany while abroad. He worked summers at the Iowa Mental Health Institute in Independence and was active in a number of local community organizations.

Contact Pat Kinney at (319) 291-1484 or


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