May 01, 2005

Sex abuse trial slated for Janssen

Quad-City Times

By Todd Ruger

When James Wells filed a lawsuit in 2003 claiming he was sexually abused decades ago by a priest from the Catholic Diocese of Davenport, he was the first to attach his name to allegations against James Janssen during an emerging scandal that year.

Since then, Janssen has been removed from the priesthood by the Vatican, faced similar lawsuits filed by seven other men and been identified by the diocese as a major perpetrator in 37 similar claims it agreed to settle for $9 million.

But a trial scheduled to start Monday in Scott County District Court on the merits of the lawsuit filed by Wells — Janssen’s nephew and namesake — will be the first time testimony and evidence related to the allegations are presented in public.

All of the legal questions central to the lawsuit are on the table for a jury to decide: Did the sexual abuse happen? Why did Wells wait so long — more than four decades — to file a lawsuit? Did he wait too long to be eligible to receive damages or does he qualify for an exemption to the statute of limitations?

Posted by kshaw at May 1, 2005 05:01 AM