IA - Predator priest is teaching sex ed
He worked in Davenport parish
But bishops told no one about him
SNAP: Catholic officials still “endanger kids”
Their “continued secrecy” violates church policies
Those who “saw, suspected or suffered abuse must speak up,” group says
For immediate release: Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013
A twice accused predator priest, who worked at a Davenport parish, now teaches sex education to youngsters in Minnesota. Until today, Catholic officials in several dioceses succeeded in keeping the allegations against him secret.
According to a lengthy Minnesota Public Radio investigation, Fr. Harry Walsh worked at St. Alphonsus Catholic Church in Davenport from 1963 to 1965.
He also worked in the 1960s in Detroit, “where he would later be accused of sexually abusing a 15-year-old girl. She reported the abuse to the Diocese of Detroit in 1994.”
Later, in Minnesota, Fr. Walsh was accused of molesting a boy.
He now “teaches sex education to troubled teenagers and vulnerable adults in Wright County, an hour west of the Twin Cities.”
A support group for clergy sex abuse victims is urging Davenport’s Catholic bishop to “aggressively reach out” to any others Fr. Walsh may have hurt in Iowa.
Leaders of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, say that Fr. Walsh “likely can be put behind bars” for his crimes, but little will happen “unless Catholic officials in Davenport, Detroit and St. Paul act responsibly and shout from the rooftops about this dangerous man and beg victims, witnesses and whistleblowers to call police right away.”
“Davenport Catholic officials let Fr. Walsh work there and have access to kids there and hid his crimes there,” said David Clohessy of St. Louis, SNAP’s director. “Now, they have a civic duty to help police see if he can be prosecuted and kept away from kids. And they have a moral duty to seek out others Fr. Walsh may have assaulted and offer them help.”
“The odds are that there’s at least one person in Iowa who was wounded by Fr. Walsh,” said Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, SNAP’s outreach director. “That person may well be struggling today with suicidal thoughts, addictions, shame, isolation, depression or self-blame. He or she needs to be found and helped and reassured that the abuse wasn’t their fault and that healing is possible.”
St. Paul/Minneapolis Archbishop John Nienstedt told the Vatican in March 2012 that the alleged abuse of the Detroit girl included "kissing, sexual touching, and simulated sexual intercourse.”
MPR reports that “Fr. Walsh was ordained a priest in Ireland in 1960 by a Catholic religious order called the Redemptorists.”
50 State AG Call for Grand Jury
Any investigation must be:
- independent of and separate from the church
- must have subpoena powers and ability to compel testimony under oath
Anything short of these criteria is a sham and whitewash.
In addition, write letters to the editor, make phone calls to politicians as they can apply pressure to keep them responsive to our demand. We need to make efforts to ensure that they follow up on what the state is doing to investigate these crimes.
Note to Letter Writers
Use your own words and style of writing. Cut and paste from the templates as you wish. Include your experiences, whether as a survivor or as a member of the community. And relate your letter to the state you were abused in or state now living in.