26 Iowa clergy sex abuse cases settle, SNAP responds

For immediate release: August 28, 2013

Statement by Steve Theisen of Hudson IA, Iowa director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (319 2311663, [email protected])

Twenty six clergy sex abuse victims have settled child sex abuse and cover up cases against the Dubuque Catholic archdiocese.

I applaud each of these brave survivors. Like all who have suffered clergy sex crimes and cover ups, they endure and continue to endure the life-long consequences from trusting someone in a collar or a habit.

Like a small minority of those who have suffered clergy sex crimes and cover ups, they have found the strength to come forward, expose predators and seek justice. All Iowa citizens and Catholics owe them a debt of gratitude.

At least 83 clergy sex abuse victims, represented by one law firm, have settled cases against the Dubuque Archdiocese, just one of four dioceses in Iowa. This is, we suspect, fewer than half of all such victims. We urge Iowa’s bishops to “come clean” and disclose ALL the settlements, those in which victims were represented by lawyers and those in which victims were not represented.

Before this settlement, there were 88 proven, admitted and credibly accused child molesting Iowa Catholic clerics. Now, there are 90.  Three of the newest settlements were against predators who the Archdiocese has seem to have slid under the radar and onto their Table of Accused (Fr. Graff, Fr. Wunder, and Fr. Wendling) or at least the Archdiocese did not well-publicize these cases.

Catholic officials will claim that they have put measures in place to prevent this from happening again. We in SNAP remain very skeptical of this claim. At best, it’s too early to tell whether any of the policies bishops hastily adopted a few short years ago area having any impact. Frankly, we doubt that they are. The crux of this crisis has always been that bishops have nearly unlimited power. And their power remains intact. So they continue to ignore and conceal child sex crimes for the same reason they always have: because they can.

No Archdiocese or institution can morally put its reputation above the safety of kids, teens, or vulnerable adults by being aware of sexual molestation and transferring sexual abusers from parish to parish and putting children in harm's way at parishes and church events.

We urge every single person who saw, suspected or suffered child sex crimes and cover ups - by these Catholic officials or others – to find the strength to speak up, expose predators, protect kids and deter wrongdoing.

Contact - Steve Theisen (319 231 1663, [email protected]), David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, [email protected]), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell, [email protected]), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747, [email protected])



AUGUST 28, 2013

Lawyer Chad Swanson of Dutton, Braun, Staack & Hellman, P.L.C. in Waterloo announces the resolution of 26 sexual abuse claims against the Archdiocese of Dubuque.  The terms of the settlement, which concluded earlier this month, were reached through a combination of private mediation and negotiation.

The claims involve priests whose names appear on the Table of Accused Priests, located on the Archdiocese of Dubuque website.  The Archdiocese has agreed to maintain this Table online for public viewing and inspection through at least July 1, 2017.  The table can be found at:

The online Table is now up to date with the latest information, and is now dated August 2013.  With respect to this group of 26 survivors, the following ten accused priests were involved:

 (1) John T. Reed  2 claims
 (2) Joseph I. Patnode  3 claims
 (3) Patrick W. McElliott  3 claims
 (4) Robert V. Swift  1 claim
 (5) William T. Schwartz 1 claim
 (6) Robert J. Reiss  10 claims
 (7) Allen M. Schmitt  1 claim
 (8) Louis W. Wunder  2 claims
 (9) Louis E. Wendling  2 claims
 (10) Peter Graff   1 claim

The claims of abuse dealt with conduct of priests which occurred between the late 1940s and the 1970s.

The group of 26 survivors, including 22 males and 4 females, were collectively paid a total of $5.2 million by the Archdiocese to resolve their claims.  The funds were divided equitably between the survivor’s group in accordance with the nature and extent of the abuse each suffered and their resulting injuries. 

In addition to financial compensation, each survivor received a personal letter of apology from Archbishop Jerome Hanus before his retirement earlier this year.  Each survivor was also provided with an opportunity to meet with the Archbishop privately.  Each  survivor and their spouse was also allowed, at the expense of the Archdiocese, the opportunity to continue or start counseling with a counselor of their own choosing for up to 12 counseling sessions.

The settlement is significant and the amount of money included in the settlement may appear substantial, but on a per person basis, it will never be sufficient to compensate these claimants for all of the years of living with the shame, embarrassment, and stigma of the abuse.  The injuries to this group of survivors cannot be overstated.  It has been significant to each and every survivor in his or her own way.  The settlement does offer the opportunity for each survivor to continue or start their personal healing process.

This settlement follows three other large-group global settlements of sexual abuse claims by the Archdiocese of Dubuque: 20 claims in February 2006, nine claims in March 2007, and 18 claims in April 2008.  In addition, 10 other claims of sexual abuse involving priests listed on the Table of Accused Priests have been resolved by this law firm on an individual, case-by-case basis between 2008 and 2013.  All told, through the efforts of this law firm, at least 83 claims of clergy sexual abuse have been resolved with the Archdiocese of Dubuque between 2006 and 2013. 

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