Review Finds Retired Catholic Bishop Guilty of Sex Abuse

By Erin Jordan
Des Moines Register
November 3, 2008

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Davenport announced four priests, including retired Bishop Lawrence Soens, have been found guilty of sexual abuse by a diocesan review board.

Soens, Joseph Hines, Eugene Smith, and Gerald Stouvenel will be added to a list of clergy credibly accused of sexually abusing children, the diocese announced this afternoon.

Monsignor Drake Shafer has been found not guilty and will be restored to active ministry, the diocese announced. Shafer was second-in-command in the diocese until he was suspended in 2003 after a West Burlington man sued him for alleged sexual molestation. The case was settled out of court.

The review board found Soens guilty of sexually abusing students at Iowa City Regina High School in the 1950s and 1960s, when he was principal. Soens was also found guilty of sexually abusing a male minor when Soens was rector of the St. Ambrose Seminary.

"That is monumental for the diocese to admit that one of their bishops is a credibly accused abuser," said Mike Uhde, an abuse victim who lives in Davenport.

The report on Soens will be sent to the Vatican, where Pope Benedict XVI will decide whether the former bishop of the Sioux City Diocese will be defrocked, said Deacon David Montgomery.

The review board found that Stouvenel sexually abused three boys in the 1970s. Pope Benedict Benedict XVI has ordered Stouvenel to "lead a life of prayer and penance," but did not defrock him, the diocese announced. Stouvenel will continue to live at the diocese headquarters in Davenport, where a monitoring program has been implemented, the diocese announced.

The review board found allegations against the Rev. Martin Diamond were not credible. The board reviewed testimony and medical records from two men who alleged they were molested by Diamond more than 30 years ago, but did not find "clear and convincing evidence," which is the standard that must be met when a priest is dead. Diamond died in 1989.

Hines is dead. Smith was defrocked in 1981, Montgomery said.


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