Archdiocese Reports New Allegations

By Pat Kinney
Globe Gazette
February 19, 2005

Thirty-four people have reported alleged incidents of child sexual abuse by clergy to the Archdiocese of Dubuque during the past two years, archdiocesan officials said in a report released Friday.

The report, outlined in a letter from Archbishop Jerome Hanus to parishioners in the archdiocese, is an update of a report he issued in December 2003.

He said then that 26 priests had been accused of sexually abusing children between 1950 and 2002, involving 67 victims — 12 girls and 55 boys.

Some of the 34 new reports repeat previous allegations, archdiocesan officials said.

The 34 incidents were among 1,092 new allegations of sexual abuse that have been reported against at least 756 priests and deacons across the country, the nation's Roman Catholic bishops said Friday.

Just as officials released the report, the archdiocese was accused in two more federal lawsuits filed in U.S. District Court Friday.

One of the lawsuits claims a woman was 13 in 1961 when she was sexually abused and photographed naked by priest Patrick McElliott in the rectory of a church in Waterloo.

In a separate case, a man claims he was 15 in 1978 when he was sexually abused by priest William Schwartz during an overnight stay at a church in Postville. That case accuses the diocese of shufffling Schwartz to three other churches until his retirement in 1987.

The reports came from victims, family members and acquaintances. Many involve incidents decades old. Some wanted to re-report previous complaints because the archdiocese instituted a new policy and reporting system in 2003, archdiocesan officials said.

"Each person comes forward with a story and often much hurt and pain," Hanus said in his letter to Catholic households within the archdiocese. It covers 30 Northeast Iowa counties and includes Mason City, Waterloo, Cedar Rapids and Dubuque.

"We try to respond to the individual and the particular situation with sensitivity and pastoral concern," Hanus said. "Despite all these efforts and initiatives, we understand that no response on our part can fully remove the pain experienced by victims. Nevertheless, we try to improve our efforts by listening to the concerns expressed by the victims."

The archdiocese spent more than $1.1 million from 1950 to 2002 on settlements and counseling, the report states.

According to Friday's report, from July 1, 2003, to June 30, 2004, the archdiocese spent more than $170,000 on various measures related to the clergy sex abuse issue.

That total includes $55,000 for two new settlements, $10,000 for ongoing payment of a previous settlement, $26,400 in victim aid including counseling, medication and other assistance, $13,000 for legal and professional fees, including investigations, $14,300 in advertising for the archdiocesan program, $9,000 for an audit of the policy by The Gavin Group of Massachusetts and $13,200 for background checks of diocesan personnel.

Some 6,500 archdiocesan personnel who have contact with minors have undergone background checks since the fall of 2003, Hanus said.

dditionally, nearly 6,000 archdiocesan personnel have undergone anti-child sexual abuse training.

"The archdiocese has likewise been in contact with all the county attorneys in northeast Iowa within the archdiocese, explaining to them that allegations of sexual abuse of a minor by archdiocesan personnel will be reported to the sheriff in each county," Hanus said.

"I remain firmly committed to our goal of having our parishes and schools as safe places for the children of the archdiocese," Hanus said. "I apologize again for the hurt and the pain caused by the sexual abuse perpetrated by clergy and other church personnel. I am sorry."

Some victim advocates, such as organizers of the Northeast Iowa chapter of Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, have said the numbers of cases and alleged abusers reported by the archdiocese are probably low.

hey have asked that the names of all clergy facing credible allegations be made public so more victims can come forward.

Friday's report included no names of accused abusers or other information about the incidents. Hanus noted church investigations are possible, and could lead to permanent penalties, including defrocking, of accused clerics.

"Until these canonical procedures are concluded, and until any criminal or civil procedures are concluded, patience on the part of all of us is needed," Hanus said. "Revealing details of the different situations can often be traumatic for victims. Revealing the names of the accused before the legal and canonical steps are completed runs the risk of ruining the reputation of individuals who are innocent."

Hanus encouraged child sexual abuse victims to contact victim coordinators.

"We know there are more victims in our midst," Hanus said. "When they feel and decide that the time is right, we will try our best to respond with compassion and understanding."


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