Sioux City diocese settles sexual abuse lawsuit

By Nick Hytrek
Sioux City Journal
February 22, 2021

A man who had alleged that he was sexually abused by a priest in the late 1960s has settled a lawsuit against the Diocese of Sioux City.

Samuel Heinrichs had sued the diocese in October 2019, saying he was sexually and physically abused by the Rev. Dale Koster at Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Mount Carmel, Iowa.

Terms of the settlement agreement are confidential, said Heinrichs' attorney, Patrick Hopkins, of West Des Moines.

"We were able to resolve the case," Hopkins said.

The diocese released a similar statement.

"The matter has been resolved," said Dawn Prosser, director of communications.

The lawsuit, filed in Woodbury County District Court, was dismissed Wednesday.

Heinrichs, who was living in California when the suit was filed, was a student at the Our Lady of Mount Carmel grade school when Koster was the head of the school, and the abuse began in 1968 when Heinrichs was in the fourth and fifth grade and recurred when he was in the eighth grade, the lawsuit said.

"Koster used his status and substantial power as a priest to groom (Heinrichs) for sexual abuse, to convince plaintiff that the abuse was normal, to convince him that reporting his abuse would be futile and to sexually abuse him," the lawsuit said.

The diocese knew or should have known of the abuse and did not end it or warn others of Koster's behavior, according to the lawsuit.

Heinrichs said he suffered from anxiety while in grade school and continues to suffer serious emotional distress and has accrued expenses for therapy and counseling.

Koster served at parishes throughout the Northwest Iowa diocese during his career, including Danbury, Doon, Templeton, Armstrong, Algona and Carroll. He retired in 1996 and died in May 2019 in Carroll.

He was not listed with 28 priests the Sioux City Diocese identified in 2019 as being credibly accused of sexual abuses dating to the 1940s. 

At the time the list was released, the diocese said it had paid settlements totaling $4.5 million to 58 victims since 2002. That total includes $2.7 million paid to settle a series of lawsuits naming George McFadden, who served more than a dozen parishes beginning in the 1960s and was accused of abusing at least 39 victims.




Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.