May 06, 2005

Janssen recants testimony

Quad-City Times

By Todd Ruger

The day after former priest James Janssen told a Scott County jury he had sexually abused his nephew during the 1950s, he took the witness stand again Thursday to say he had felt pressured to lie under oath.

Janssen, 83, of Davenport, repeatedly compared himself to a saint as he changed his testimony to completely deny allegations made earlier in the trial by plaintiff James Wells, 56, of Bettendorf.

“I was overwhelmed, I think, by pressure,” Janssen testified, saying that his attorney, Edward Wehr, had told him the jury probably would not believe it if he denied the allegations.

James Janssen, a former priest in the Catholic Diocese of Davenport, gestures Thursday while recanting testimony from the previous day in which he had admitted sexually abusing his nephew decades ago.

“But I’m 83 years of age now, and I just thought last night, ‘Why did I, to be honest, perjure myself just to be polite to my attorney?’ ” he said.

Wells’ attorney, Craig Levien, asked Janssen why he responded “yes” when asked Wednesday whether he had fondled Wells and masturbated during a nap after a family Thanksgiving dinner in 1953.

Posted by kshaw at May 6, 2005 05:23 AM