By Barb Arland-Fye
DAVENPORT — James Janssen, a former diocesan priest removed from the priesthood because of credible allegations of clergy sexual abuse, has pleaded guilty to perjury in Scott County District Court.
The perjury charges stemmed from conflicting statements Janssen, 87, made about his assets after his nephew, James Wells, was awarded a $1.8 million judgment against him in 2005. A Scott County jury found that Janssen had sexually abused his nephew when the younger man was a child.
Wells had difficulty recovering the jury award and sought the court’s help. In January 2008, Janssen began a sixth-month jail term for contempt of court for failing to provide an adequate explanation about missing assets. Later, he was charged with three counts of perjury for lying under oath, making a false statement and continuing a scheme to transfer and hide assets.
As part of a plea agreement, the county attorney agreed to allow Janssen to plead guilty to the three counts of perjury and recommend that he not be incarcerated, said his attorney, Mike McCarthy.
Janssen, who now lives in Bettendorf, decided to accept the plea agreement because of his age and ill health, McCarthy said. Janssen entered his plea May 11. But it will be up to the judge to decide at a June 24 sentencing whether to accept the plea agreement, McCarthy noted.
He said some of Janssen’s assets have been returned for payment toward the $1.8 million judgment.
Janssen at one time was a co-defendant in 10 clergy sexual abuse lawsuits. The Vatican defrocked him in 2004 at the request of the Diocesan Review Board.