Archdiocese of Dubuque Pays $5.2 Million to Priests' Victims

By Will Cushman
Dyersville Commercial
August 28, 2013

A law firm representing sexual abuse victims of priests in the Archdiocese of Dubuque revealed today that the Archdiocese paid $5.2 million to 26 victims in a recent settlement.

Chad Swanson, of Dutton, Braun, Staack and Hellman law firm in Waterloo, said in a press release that the claims came from 22 men and four women who were victims of sexual abuse at the hands of 10 Archdiocese priests from the 1940-70s. In addition to the monetary payments, Swanson said the Archdiocese agreed to pay for up to 12 counseling sessions for each of the victims.

“The settlement is significant and the amount of money included in the settlement may appear substantial, but on a per person basis, it will never be sufficient to compensate these claimants for all of the years of living with the shame, embarrassment and stigma of the abuse,” Swanson said in a press release. “The injuries to this group of survivors cannot be overstated. The settlement does offer the opportunity for each survivor to continue or start their personal healing process.”

Steve Theisen, Iowa director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), applauded the survivors in a statement Wednesday.

“Like all who have suffered clergy sex crimes and cover-ups, they endured and continue to endure the life-long consequences from trusting someone in a collar or a habit,” Theisen said. “They have found the strength to come forward, expose predators and seek justice.”

The 10 priests named in the recent settlement case are John T. Reed, Joseph I. Patnode, Patrick W. McElliott, Robert V. Swift, William T. Schwartz, Robert J. Reiss, Allen M. Schmitt, Louis W. Wunder, Louis E. Wendling and Peter Graff. All are dead, except Schwartz and Schmitt. Schwartz was dismissed from the priesthood in 2005 and Schmitt is still a priest who works at the Archdiocese’s pastoral center in Dubuque under supervision, according to an Archdiocese spokesperson.

Reiss served at Holy Trinity in Luxemburg from 1960-7 and Immaculate Conception in North Buena Vista from 1985-90; McElliott served at St. Patrick in Colesburg from 1963-6; Swift served at St. Aloysius in Garryowen from 1953-4; and Graff served at Ss. Peter and Paul in Petersburg from 1941-46.

The settlement is the fourth such large-group global settlement of sexual abuse claims by the Archdiocese of Dubuque. With 26 claims, it is also the largest. The Archdiocese has now settled 83 claims of clergy sexual abuse since 2006.



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