Accused Priests Named; Archdiocese of Dubuque Reverses Stance to Identify Priests Accused of Sexual Abuse

By Mary Nevans Pederson
Telegraph Herald [Dubuque IA]
January 6, 2006

In a reversal of its previous stance, the Archdiocese of Dubuque on Thursday released the names of 14 priests accused of sexually abusing minors and a list detailing what parishes the priests served in and when.

Fees, settlements paid Also Thursday, the Archdiocese of Dubuque reported paying $101,000 for legal and professional fees between July 2004 and June 2005. In that same fiscal year, the archdiocese paid $305,000 in three legal settlements with victims of clergy sexual abuse and $25,000 for victim counseling and other medical expenses.

The priests served from the 1930s through the 1990s, in large and small parishes from one end of the northeast Iowa archdiocese to the other. Ten of the men are dead. Of the four who are still living, one was dismissed from the priesthood and the other three no longer function as priests.

Since the clergy abuse scandal first rocked the Roman Catholic Church in January 2002, victim advocacy groups have called for the archdiocese to release the names of all credibly accused priests or religious men and women. Local church officials have never done so, saying there would be little public benefit to releasing information about past cases.

In March 2003, Monsignor James Barta, archdiocesan vicar general, said, "What good does it do to talk about the sins of priests who are dead? There are only a handful who are still alive and none of those are active priests in this diocese."

Thursday Barta said the list was released at this time because, "All of these cases have been made public in one way or another - through the media or in the court system. This confirms and compiles them in one place."

He said the decision was made by Archbishop Jerome Hanus after careful deliberation.

"I hope it shows that we have been concerned about these ugly, sinful, terrible things that have happened and that we've taken steps to protect the public from these priests and to help those who have been harmed by them," Barta said.

Victim advocacy groups have mixed feelings about the release of the names.

Steve Theisen, director of the Iowa chapter of Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, said he was "happy" to see the names made public by the archdiocese. But he added, "There is almost nothing new in this report as almost all these names were released in the media (previously)."

In 2003, in a letter sent to all Catholic households in the 30-county archdiocese, Hanus reported that 26 priests had been accused of molesting minors since before 1950.

"Ten of the 26 were accused of sexually abusing a total of at least 12 female minors, and the rest of having sexually abused at least 55 male minors," he wrote. That was before a spate of lawsuits were filed against the archdiocese in 2004 and 2005.

Barta explained the discrepancy between the previous mention of 26 (unnamed) priests by Hanus and Thursday's list of 14 accused priests.

"Some of those are not considered credible. There's nothing much to go on about the claims," he said.

The accused priests who are alive are William T. Schwartz, William Goltz, Tim DeVenney and Allen M. Schmitt.

The accused priests who are now deceased are the Revs. Joseph Patnode, Henry Dunkel, Albert Carman, John Schmitz, Patrick Elliot, Albert Forster, John Brickley, Robert Reiss, William Roach and John Peters.

The report addresses two other priests who have been accused publicly of misdeeds.

The Rev. Nicholas Cigrand was accused in a 2004 lawsuit by a Cedar Rapids, Iowa, man who says the priest abused him between 1965 and 1968. The suit was dismissed by the court, a decision which is being appealed. The archdiocese does not consider the accusation to be true, said the report.

The Rev. Michael C. Fitzgerald admitted in 2000 to salacious Internet correspondence with someone he thought was a 13-year-old boy. He denied ever sexually abusing minors. He was placed on leave and sent to a treatment center. Fitzgerald died in a highway accident in 2001.

Chad Swanson, the Waterloo, Iowa, attorney representing most of the men and women who claim to have been abused by archdiocesan clergy, declined to comment about the release of the priests' names.

The first case to proceed to trial is scheduled to begin on Feb. 13. In his lawsuit, Jim Cummins claims that Roach abused him in 1962, when Cummins was an altar boy at a Cedar Rapids church. Two other men filed lawsuits last year claiming abuse by Roach, who died 20 years ago.


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