Diocese of Sioux City addresses victims of abuse

Friday, January 4, 2019

SIOUX CITY — The Diocese of Sioux City issued a statement today regarding victims of abuse by members of the clergy.

The statement issued is as follows, "The Diocese of Sioux City would first like to apologize to all victims of abuse by members of the clergy. We are working to do everything we can to help victims who come forward. We want to help them feel a sense of justice and healing. The Diocese of Sioux City continues to express sorrow for and to apologize to the victims of sexual misconduct by members of our clergy. We again encourage all victims, if you have not reported past or present abuse, to please come forward. The Victims Assistance hotline number is (866) 435-4397 or (712) 279-5610.

"As an update to all victims and our community at large, we are diligently working on the release of a list of clergy who have substantiated allegations of sexual misconduct with minors against them. We sincerely hope this will help victims in their healing. Coordinating this list has taken longer than we expected as we review all of our records carefully. Taking into account advice received in our meeting with the Attorney General for the State of Iowa in early December and counsel provided by Dioceses that have already released lists, we have made progress on our list and have a draft.

"While we initially indicated that the list would be released in 2018, completing the list is requiring additional time for our research to be thorough and reporting to be correct. Our Diocesan Review Board and its subcommittees are having ongoing meetings to complete and release the list. We appreciate your patience.

"In addition, there was has been some recent media attention around the SNAP group and a meeting that Mr. Tim Lennon held at the Stoney Creek Inn in Sioux City in late December. We deeply regret the abuse that Mr. Lennon suffered at the hands of Peter Murphy, a deceased member of the clergy who served in our Diocese from 1955-1973. The Diocese would like to clarify some of the information that has been in the media, as well as answering questions that have arisen since that meeting.

"First, the Diocese has had a great deal of communication with Lennon and has acknowledged his pain and suffering from Peter Murphy. The Diocese reached a settlement with Mr. Lennon on Aug. 25, 2016. Mr. Lennon publicly communicated to the press that the case had been settled. As part of that process, he wrote the following letters to the Diocese. On Aug. 7, 2016, he stated:

"[I am] 'pleased to receive your offer of support and compensation. I accept with thanks to you and the Review Board. Your gracious letter is most welcomed and appreciated…Like much of this process over the last five years is a bit overwhelming. Assistance with therapy comes at a good time as it would help keep me on a healing path… I want to acknowledge your expression of regret and sorrow. I also appreciate your apology. Your expression and apology are meaningful and important to me.'

"Mr. Lennon also wrote a second letter, dated Aug. 25, 2016, stating, 'I will be quite candid in expressing the deep emotion I am feeling after receiving your letter and settlement agreement. One emotion is the knowledge that my abuse has been recognized both in your gracious apology and your agreement of monetary award. This also evokes great sadness as it brings up the harm that I have suffered and still suffer. In peaking through these dramatic emotions are pleasant dreams of what the award can bring.'

"In a letter dated Aug. 19, 2016 Bishop Nickless stated to Mr. Lennon, 'I recognize that this settlement does not undo the harm that you have suffered but pray that it will help you attain a sense of resolution, restitution and that justice is being served.' This correspondence with Mr. Lennon contrasts SNAP’s accusation that the Diocese calls victims 'liars.' We have attempted to treat all victims with respect and compassion, including Mr. Lennon. We are deeply sorry if anyone feels that have not been heard, and we urge you to come forward and talk with us.

"According to news reports, Mr. Lennon alleged that Bishop DiNardo 'covered up' abuse by priests, specifically mentioning Murphy. Peter Murphy died 17 years before DiNardo was made Bishop of the Diocese of Sioux City. The allegations that came forth about Murphy happened after Bishop DiNardo left Sioux City.

"Bishop DiNardo sent George McFadden’s case for laicization to Rome. Bishop DiNardo did remove McFadden from ministry in 2001.

"Jerome Coyle was also mentioned, according to the press. When Bishop DiNardo was ordained as Bishop of Sioux City, Jerome Coyle had been out of the priesthood, living as a civilian in a civilian job in Albuquerque, New Mexico for 11 years. There were no allegations of abuse by Coyle during this timeframe.

"Finally, at the SNAP meeting, people were told to reach out to 'Scott' if they have questions. It should be noted that Scott Rhinehart is an attorney in Sioux City, not a counselor, and has represented a number of victims.

"It should be noted that since 2002, alleged allegations of sexual abuse by active members of the clergy to a minor in the Diocese of Sioux City have been virtually eliminated. The allegations since 2002 are almost entirely from adult victims who have reported past abuse. Every victim is welcome to come forth to the Diocese, with or without counsel, and they will be treated with the utmost respect. As stated in the opening paragraph here, any victim of abuse by clergy should call our Victims Assistance Coordinator at the Mercy Child Advocacy Center. Our website, www.scdiocese.org, also has a button 'Report Abuse' at the top of every page in English and Spanish that directs you to how to report abuse by clergy, past or present."

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