May 03, 2005

Jury being selected to hear lawsuit against defrocked Davenport priest


By TODD DVORAK, Associated Press Writer

DAVENPORT -- Selection of a jury began Monday to hear a lawsuit accusing a defrocked Roman Catholic priest of sexual abuse almost 50 years ago.

A 56-year-old man, who claims he was abused as a child, is suing James Janssen. The man claims Janssen abused him in the early 1950s and that church officials kept the secret for more than four decades.

"This case involves sexual abuse. It involves issues of religion. It's also about the serious psychological problems" that the man now suffers, attorney Craig Levien told prospective jurors. "These are all things that are hard for many of us to talk about."

Janssen has denied the claims, but the Vatican stripped him of the priesthood last fall at Bishop William Franklin's request.

Franklin was responding to complaints about past abuse. He said 96 people had come forward to accuse as many as 25 former priests, but the bulk of the complaints named three.

Posted by kshaw at May 3, 2005 05:37 AM