SNAP
Press Release

 

BACK TO:

Press Release
List



 


The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Release
Giving Voice to Victims

 

For immediate release:
Monday, Feb. 14, 2005

For more information:
Steve Theisen, Co-founder of NE Iowa SNAP, 319-231-1663
Heather Smith, Co-founder of NE Iowa SNAP, 319-939-4144
David Clohessy of St. Louis SNAP National Director 314 566-9790 cell,
Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, SNAP Outreach Director 314 862 7688

Sex Abuse Group Criticizes Iowa Pastor

He Belatedly Names One of Two Pedophile Priests

Molestation Victims Ask to Speak At Church

A support group for clergy sex abuse victims is writing Dubuque's Catholic Archbishop and a Dubuque pastor asking them to publicly name a priest who has been accused of molesting children. The group also wants church officials to let them speak at masses about how to sensitively reach out to anyone who may have experienced or witnessed sex crimes by clerics.

On Jan. 30, a leader and member of NE Iowa Chapter of SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) visited Holy Ghost Parish in Dubuque to reach out to anyone who may have been hurt by religious leaders, and specifically victims of Fr. William T. Schwartz, who faces at least one civil molestation lawsuit.

On Feb 6th, 2005, in the Holy Ghost parish bulletin, Holy Ghost pastor, Fr. Paul Otting wrote: "The Archdiocese of Dubuque confirms it was named in a civil suit filed in Linn County in 2004. William Schwartz was ordained a priest in 1958. He served at Holy Ghost in 1980."

Leaders of SNAP, however, are disappointed that this disclosure came only after they handed out leaflets to parishioners about the accused molester a week before.

"It feels like church officials continue to keep abuse secret until forced to do otherwise," said Heather Smith of Waterloo, IA, Co-founder of NE Iowa SNAP. On Feb. 14th, Smith and fellow SNAP leader Steve Theisen of Hudson sent a letter with their requests, by fax and e-mail, to Fr. Otting and Dubuque Archbishop Hanus.

The group is also upset that Fr. Otting failed to inform his flock about molestation charges against Msgr. William A. Roach who worked at Holy Ghost in the early 1950's and later became the Secretary to the Archbishop, Chancellor, and then Vicar General. (A suit against Roach had been filed in U.S. District Court in the summer of 2004).

Copies of SNAP's letters are below:

February 14, 2005

Fr. Paul Otting
Holy Ghost Church
2917 Central Ave.
Dubuque, IA 52001
(563) 582-5443
FAX 563-557-0844
dbq055@arch.pvt.k12.ia.us

Dear Fr. Paul Otting:

I'm sorry you were not available when I and another survivor visited your parish on January 30th in an attempt to reach out to survivors of religious sexual abuse to let them know they no longer needed to suffer in silence with misplaced guilt and shame.

We received an insert, which you had placed inside the Holy Ghost Church Bulletin on the following weekend of February 5th.

We are glad you placed this information in the Church Bulletin. However it falls far short of Archbishop Hanus' pledge to have an "open dialogue" and "open disclosure" on the sexual abuse committed by religious men and women in the Archdiocese of Dubuque. It feels like church officials continue to keep abuse secret until forced to do otherwise.

It also falls far short on the Archdiocese Policy for the Protection of Children, in which the policy states, "The Archdiocese will notify faith communities of the allegation of abuse."

Your insert states, "William Schwartz was placed under church penalties in 1993." That's 12 years ago. Why has it taken you or your predecessors 12 years to notify the Holy Ghost faith community? A sex-abuse case is a sex-abuse case no matter if the abuser was a relative or hid behind a collar or under a habit.

An overwhelming number of Holy Ghost parishioners worship and serve in their community and genuinely try to put their faith into action. They must be faced with a sense of anguish, sorrow and disgust at your and the diocese's silence.

You also used the word alleged several times in the insert. We can assure you from talking to the victim who filed suit, that his abuse at the hands of Fr. Schwartz is not "alleged." The victim in this case, Dan Ortmann, is extremely upset that you referred to his abuse, suffering, and pain as "alleged" and even more upset that you told the parishioners the same. I would hope you have the decency to correct this injustice to Dan and the flock you are to be leading and not misleading. Dan can be reached at 319-329-6447. We can assure you also from talking to two other victims of Fr. Schwartz that their abuse is not alleged nor is their life-long consequences of abuse alleged.

We sadly have the Fr. Schwartz victim count to 14 (13 from his immediate assignment before arriving at Holy Ghost). We fear the Fr. Schwartz victim count will grow much larger. We pray you will find the courage to tell the Holy Ghost faith community the entire truth and reach out to these victims.

We will also pray you will find the courage to inform the Holy Ghost faith community of Msgr. William A. Roach's sexual crimes and who served the Holy Ghost faith community in the early 1950's and later became the Secretary to the Bishop, Chancellor, and then Vicar General. The Roach case was filed in U.S. District Court in the summer of 2004. We pray the Archbishop will inform all the other faith communities where Msgr. Roach served.

Survivors of religious sexual abuse are to be available to speak to the Holy Ghost faith community on our abuses, the fear of coming forward, the life-long consequences of abuse, how abuse affected our lives, what the faith community can do to assist us on our journey, and efforts that can prevent abuse again in the Catholic Church.

Sincerely,
Steve Theisen - (319) 231-1663
Heather Smith - (319) 939-4144
Co-founders of NE Iowa SNAP

-----

February 14, 2005

Archbishop Jerome Hanus
Archdiocesan Pastoral Center
1229 Mt Loretta Ave
Dubuque, IA 52003
Tel: (563) 556-2580
Fax: (563) 556-5464

Dear Archbishop Hanus:

SNAP survivors visited Holy Ghost parish in Dubuque on January 30th in an attempt to reach out to survivors of religious sexual abuse to let them know they no longer needed to suffer in silence with misplaced guilt and shame.

We recently received an insert, which Fr. Otting had placed inside the Holy Ghost Church Bulletin on the following weekend of February 5th.

We are glad Fr. Otting placed this information in the Church Bulletin. However it falls far short of your pledge to have an "open dialogue" and "open disclosure" on the sexual abuse committed by religious men and women in the Archdiocese of Dubuque. It feels like you continue to keep abuse secret until forced to do otherwise.

It also falls far short on the Archdiocese Policy for the Protection of Children, in which the policy states, "The Archdiocese will notify faith communities of the allegation of abuse."

The insert states, "William Schwartz was placed under church penalties in 1993." That's 12 years ago. Why has it taken you or your predecessors 12 years to notify the Holy Ghost faith community? A sex-abuse case is a sex-abuse case no matter if the abuser was a relative or hid behind a collar or under a habit.

An overwhelming number of parishioners worship and serve in their communities and genuinely try to put their faith into action. They must be faced with a sense of anguish, sorrow and disgust at your silence.

Fr. Otting also used the word alleged several times in the insert. We can assure you from talking to the victim who filed suit, that his abuse at the hands of Fr. Schwartz is not "alleged." The victim in this case, Dan Ortmann, is extremely upset that Fr. Otting referred to his abuse, suffering, and pain as "alleged" and even more upset that Fr. Otting told the parishioners the same. I would hope you have the decency to correct this injustice to Dan and the flock you are to be leading and not misleading. Dan can be reached at 319-329-6447. We can assure you also from talking to two other victims of Fr. Schwartz that their abuse is not alleged nor is their life-long consequences of abuse alleged.

Should the pastor at St. Anthony's have inserted similar information, we hope you will make that correction also.

We sadly have the Fr. Schwartz victim count to 14 (13 from his immediate assignment before arriving at Holy Ghost). We fear the Fr. Schwartz victim count will grow much larger as you well know. We pray you will find the courage to tell the Holy Ghost faith community and the entire Archdiocese the entire truth and reach out to these victims.

We will also pray you will find the courage to inform the Holy Ghost faith community of Msgr. William A. Roach's sexual crimes and who served the Holy Ghost faith community in the early 1950's and later became the Secretary to the Bishop, Chancellor, and then Vicar General. The Roach case was filed in Federal Court, as you know. We pray you will inform all the other faith communities where Msgr. Roach served.

Survivors of religious sexual abuse are available to speak to any of the faith communities on our abuses, the fear of coming forward, the life-long consequences of abuse, how abuse affected our lives, what the faith community can do to assist us on our journey, and efforts that can prevent abuse again in the Archdiocese.

Sincerely,
Steve Theisen - (319) 231-1663
Heather Smith - (319) 939-4144
Co-founders of NE Iowa SNAP

 


Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
www.snapnetwork.org