January 19, 2005

Bishop accused of sex abuse

Des Moines Register

January 19, 2005

Catholic Church officials disclosed Tuesday that a retired bishop was accused of child sexual abuse in the 1960s, when he was a priest, and that the Davenport diocese paid $20,000 to settle with one of the accusers.

It is the first time in Iowa that a bishop has been publicly accused of abuse in connection with the scandal that has exposed decades of abuse of minors by clergy.

Retired Sioux City Bishop Lawrence Soens was accused of child sexual abuse when he was a priest in the Davenport diocese in the 1960s, according to a report issued Tuesday by Davenport Bishop William Franklin.

Soens was the Sioux City diocese's fifth bishop, from 1983 to 1998. Tuesday's report, which summarized the Davenport diocese's investigation of sexual abuse in the past year, says there were three allegations against Soens. The diocese settled one of those allegations for $20,000 in October.

Timothy Bottaro, Soens' attorney, said that Soens has denied the allegations, but that since the matter is now before church authorities, he can make no comment.

Sioux City Diocese spokesman Jim Wharton defended Soens and said news of the allegations "shocks and saddens all of us."

Posted by kshaw at January 19, 2005 07:51 AM