"What Did We Do?': Anger, Shock from Parents Who Unwittingly Housed Sexually Abusive Iowa Priest
By Tyler J Davis
Des Moines Register
November 2, 2018
Reuben and Tania Ortiz were remorseful and wondering: Did we really invite a sexual predator to sleep under the same roof as our children?
Reuben said he had to patrol his own house, installing locks on bedroom doors and sleeping in his living room to keep watch on his 13-, 15- and 17-year-olds. Now, he worries that his efforts weren't enough to protect his kids from admitted pedophile the Rev. Jerome Coyle.
“We knew (Coyle) for 13 years and he really spent a lot of time with us … in fact, people would even say ‘Hey, where’s Jerry?’ because he would go places with us," Reuben said from his New Mexico home Wednesday. "He had already spent time, even by himself, with our (kids), at times; I don't know what he did."
Reuben said he spoke with his children after he was informed of the 85-year-old's actions as an Iowa priest. Coyle admitted in the 1980s to attraction to or sexual contact with about 50 boys in central and western Iowa over a span of 20-plus years.
“I am really pretty much in fear that actually something happened,” he said.
The Ortizes are represented by attorney Pat Hopkins of West Des Moines. In a news release Friday, Hopkins, Iowa lawyer Scott Rhinehart and New Mexico lawyer Brad Hall encouraged victims of clerical abuse to contact them at 515-218-7075 or 712-258-8706 or by email.
"This case clearly illustrates that the ongoing lack of transparency in the Catholic Church poses an ongoing risk to children," Hopkins said in the release. “If this priest continues to pose a risk to children in 2018, then he almost certainly posed a risk to children in the three decades between 1986 and 2018 as well."
Tania and Reuben learned of Coyle's attraction to boys via a letter from the Diocese of Sioux City. He spent nearly 30 years as a priest in about 10 parishes across Iowa, mostly in western Iowa.
The letter to the Ortizes from diocesan Vicar General Bradley Pelzel said Coyle self-reported in 1986 his "victimization" of more than 50 boys. He was then sent to New Mexico's Servants of the Paraclete, a treatment facility for priests accused of sexual abuse, and stayed in the state for more than 30 years.