Former Altar Boy Sues Roman Catholic Priests for Sexual Abuse

By Todd Dvorak
Associated Press State & Local Wire [Iowa]
June 23, 2004

A former altar boy at a Roman Catholic church in Cedar Rapids has filed a federal lawsuit accusing several priests of sexual assaulting him 42 years ago.

The victim, now living in Dallas, Texas, says in the lawsuit he was sexually assaulted on two occasions during the summer of 1962 by the Rev. William Roach and at two other unnamed priests.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Cedar Rapids, also names the Archdiocese of Dubuque, which had supervision over Roach and the other priests.

A diocese spokesman and attorney said they had not been notified of the lawsuit and declined comment.

The victim's attorney, Chad Swanson, of Waterloo, declined comment.

The lawsuit said the victim was baptized at Immaculate Conception parish in Cedar Rapids and attended catechism, served as an altar boy and attended weekly mass for many years with his family.

From 1957 to 1961, Monsignor Maurice Sheehy was resident pastor, followed by Roach, who served from 1961 to 1967, the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit says the victim notified his parents about the abuse and that his mother reported it to Sheehy and encouraged him to report it to the archbishop.

The lawsuit blames the diocese for failing to take proper disciplinary action against Roach, who remained at the Cedar Rapids parish five more years.

The victim claims the abuse caused years of mental and emotional problems, including shame, guilt, depression and post-traumatic stress.

The lawsuit also claims the victim blocked out memories of the abuse and did not make a connection between his emotional problems and the abuse until 2003.

A report issued by the diocese in December found that it had received 67 credible sex-abuse allegations against 26 priests over a 52-year period and allegations against six other priests that could not be confirmed.

The diocese also said it had paid nearly $1.2 million for settlements and treatment of victims.


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