Iowa man discloses the alleged abuse he suffered at the hands of a church employee



Edwin Graf says he was sexually abused by a trusted member and employee of his church, St. Patrick's Parish in Corning, Iowa. The abuse happened almost five decades ago, in the 1970s. He says he was sexually abused at least 12 times, starting when he was 13 and ending when he was 15.

Graff stated that a church member and employee, Dr. John Ott, was his abuser. Ott has been imprisoned since 2013 for engaging in illicit sexual conduct with minors in Kenya. Court records show that Ott also started an orphanage in Kenya. Ott admitted that between approximately January 2004 and September 2012, he engaged in illicit sexual conduct in Muhuru Bay, Sori and Kendu Bay, Kenya, with at least 14 minors, who ranged in age from approximately nine to 17 years old when the illicit sexual conduct began.  

We know that it took a lot of courage for the survivor to share his story and we applaud him for standing up against the very institution that failed to protect him. We hope his courage and strength will empower others who may have suffered sexual abuse or have information about the alleged perpetrator, Dr. John Ott, to report their information immediately to law enforcement.

Our concern is that this allegation dates to the 1970s and Ott was only arrested in 2012. To us, this is a red flag that there are most likely more victims out there and a sure signal that Ott made a long career out of abusing children. The convicted Ott admitted abusing up to the year of his arrest, it may take 40 more years for the potentially unknown victims to disclose their own horror.



We urge the Diocese of Des Moines to disclose the type of work and years Ott spent within the diocese and, where else besides St. Patrick’s in Corning did he work. Additionally, in the spirit of transparency and accountability, church officials should make public the name of Mr. Graff’s priest confessor, of whom he told of the abuse, and the scour the clerics' personnel file for any memos written to the diocese that may have pertinent information. This information could be a lifeline for victims.

We know that delayed disclosure of CSA is the norm, not the exception. According to research done by the nationally renowned think tank CHILD USA, the average age at which a survivor comes forward is 52. The data also shows that most victims of CSA never report what happened to them. Only 1/3 of victims disclose in childhood, and 1/3 never disclose.  Survivors are silenced by feelings of shame, as well as the fear that they will be disbelieved if they do speak up.

Allowing victims more time to come forward and seek justice will help to expose ‘hidden predators,' those who have escaped justice, not the few who are jailed. This will make Iowa communities safer. No boy or girl should be put at risk from abusers whose crimes could be made public with legislative reform. Iowa lawmakers need to deliver justice to those who have been silenced for far too long and to protect the innocent from harm. 

CONTACT:  Michael McDonnell, SNAP Communication Manager ([email protected]), 267-261-0578), Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director ([email protected], 517-974-9009) Shaun Dougherty, SNAP Board President ([email protected], 814-341-8386)

Showing 1 comment

SNAP Network is a GuideStar Gold Participant