Diocese releases names of 'credibly accused' abusers
By Ann McGlynn
July 11, 2008
Twenty-four Diocese of Davenport priests — so far — are credibly accused of sexually abusing others, according to a list released late Thursday afternoon by diocesan officials.
Eight of the names are believed to be previously not listed. Sixteen were previously identified. However, some well-known names are missing, and other names dropped off when compared to a previous listing.
The list may be supplemented as a private investigator, James Sweeney, completes his work and a diocesan review board approves releasing more names, officials said.
Diocesan officials could not be reached for further comment.
Craig Levien, attorney for several of the sex abuse victims, said he is concerned about the lack of information about each priest — their service records, the number of claims and whether they are dead or alive.
“It’s a little information, but everybody needs a lot more information to bring about true justice and healing and to protect children in the future,” he said. “Releasing a list raises more questions than it does answers.”
He further said: “If you were sitting at home as a 60- or 70-year-old Catholic, what would you want to know?”
Levien also questioned the removal of information, specifically detailed sex abuse crisis reports by retired Bishop William Franklin, on the diocese’s Web site. A search for James Janssen, for example, on the diocesan site, turns up no hits. Janssen is one of the diocese’s most notorious abusers.
Mike Uhde, who won a $1.5 million verdict against the diocese for abuse he suffered, thinks there are at least two dozen more names that are not addressed by the list.
Among those missing from the list:
-- Now-retired Bishop Lawrence Soens, who is accused mostly of sexually abusing students while he was principal at Regina High School in Iowa City.
-- Drake Shafer, the diocese’s former vicar general, who was accused of abusing a child in the 1970s.
-- The Rev. Gerald Stouvenal, an active priest suspended in July because of claims made in the diocese’s bankruptcy. The diocese has asked that he be defrocked.
-- Richard Poster, who was convicted of possession of child pornography.
-- Martin Diamond and Joseph Hinds, previously named.
The new names are Bernard Brugman, Sylvester Conrad, Orville DeCoursey, Fidelis Forrester, Thomas Hackett, John Kennedy, Alphonse Wagner and Richard Welsh.
A board of five people determine who should be on the list, officials said. The members are Clarence Darrow, an attorney; Catherine Fouts, past president of the diocesan board of education and vice president of the Newton School Board; Bernard Hardiek, retired Deere & Co. executive; Monsignor James Parizek; and Chris McCormick Pries, an executive with Vera French Community Mental Health Center.
The accused must meet one or more criteria to be “credibly accused,” diocesan oficials said. The abuse must be more likely than not to have occurred, corroborated with other evidence or other sources and/or acknowledged or admitted to by the accused.
“With regard to deceased or incapacitated clergy, the evidence must be clear and convincing,” the news release announcing the list said. “This higher standard is used because the clergy is no longer alive to defend himself.”
Ann McGlynn can be contacted at (563) 383-2336 or firstname.lastname@example.org.