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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Release
Giving Voice to Victims

 

For Immediate Release:
February 18, 2008

For More Information:
Steve Theisen of Hudson, Iowa SNAP Director, 319 231 1663
Peter Isely of Milwaukee, Wisconsin SNAP Director, 414-429-7259
David Clohessy of St. Louis, MO- SNAP National Director 314 566 9790 cell, 314 645 5915
Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, MO - SNAP Outreach Director 314 862 7688

Trial dates set for unusual clergy sex case

Criminal charges were filed more than 35 years after sexual assault

Molester born and raised in Waterloo, IA; currently living in Fairfield, IA

He was a former seminarian and Dubuque County man who worked as counselor in Mason City

Self help group hopes other victims and witnesses will come forward, call police, and get help

A July trial date has been set for a criminal case against a former Catholic seminarian who molested a child in Wisconsin.

Dale Soppe of Fairfield, IA will go to trial on July 17 on charges of indecent behavior with a child. The Waterloo, Iowa native is accused of sexually abusing an Iowa boy in Barron County, Wisconsin in 1969 when the victim was 13 years old. 

The charges were filed in early May 2006 (Case # 2004 BA 001499). Because Soppe left Wisconsin, the criminal statutes of limitations was stopped or "tolled," enabling the prosecution to move forward.

Prior to the sexual assault, Soppe was victim's 7th grade homeroom teacher and basketball coach in the Western Dubuque School District in Epworth, IA.  The victim has reported that Soppe molested him in the classroom numerous times and on "basketball scouting trips" to Waterloo. After the victim's family moved, Soppe traveled to Wisconsin and abused him again there.

Soppe also taught at Dyersville Beckman (then know as Dyersville Xavier), a Catholic high school in Dyersville; and is believed to have been a seminarian at the now-closed St. Bernard's Seminary in Dubuque.

The victim, now 51, lives in Hillsdale, Wisconsin and prepared the following statement:
"I decided to pursue charges to protect children.  I look at my daughters and do not want them or any children to experience the life-long consequences that Soppe inflicted upon me.  I hope my actions will encourage parents to listen to their children and for children who are abused to realize it (the abuse) was not their fault.  We need to take action now to protect all children.  The Barron County District Attorney and Sheriff's Department are to be highly commended for their efforts in protecting Wisconsin children.  I started this process almost 4 years ago.  These molesters who are often known to the victims and their families, need to realize that they will be held accountable for their crimes against children.  I hope my actions will help other victims come forward for a chance to heal.  I hope my actions will encourage children to tell the police and tell their parents."

Iowa Survivors' Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) Director, Steve Theisen of Hudson said, "The victim and his family are to be highly praised for their great courage; almost 90% of predators are not known to police; the victim's courage will help protect children." 

Theisen also stated that he is concerned about the possible trail of destruction that Soppe may have left.  Soppe not only worked in schools but also has earned a living as a counselor including nine years in Mason City, IA that dramatically expanded his access to children.

In a book Soppe wrote called Change Your Concepts, Change Your World (Vantage Press; 1979) he wrote:
"Dale Soppe was born in Waterloo, Iowa in 1935.  After graduation from Our Lady of Victory High School (he was president of the Senior Class) in Waterloo in 1953, he attended Loras College there, taking his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1957.  He also studied for the priesthood for four and a half years.  After a twelve-year hiatus, during which he taught school and wrote a weekly sports column for the Dyersville (Iowa) Commercial, Mr. Soppe resumed his own education; and is presently engaged in working on a degree in theology at Aquinas Institute in Dubuque."

The prosecutor in the case is the Barron County District Attorney (715-537-6220). Detective Mary Dexter has handled the investigation (715-537-5814; extension 6736).

A pre-trial hearing in the case is set for June 13.

Theisen stressed that victim-survivors can contact SNAP, a confidential, independent, support group with over 55 chapters nationwide at 1-877 SNAP HEALS.  SNAP's web site is www.SNAPnetwork.org.


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