By Barb Arland-Fye
Bishop Martin Amos will not appeal a bankruptcy court judge’s order to post on the Davenport Diocese’s website the names of three deceased priests who were accused of clergy sexual abuse. However, the list will include an explanation that accusations against the three priests were not substantiated by clear and convincing evidence.
“The names had already been made public in the press and the judge told us to post the names, so we will comply,” Bishop Amos said. “We will also provide our rationale for the conclusion we reached about the accusations.”
Two different standards for determining credibility of clergy sexual abuse claims compelled Bankruptcy Court Judge Lee Jackwig last month to order the posting of the priests’ names on the diocesan website.
Kathleen Bowman, the Iowa woman who made the accusations, received a settlement from the bankruptcy court’s special arbitrator based on her claims. Bowman said she was abused as a young child by Fathers John Bonn, Michael Broderick and William Dawson, and she identified them by name in articles published in the Quad-City Times this summer. She further claimed that the diocese had failed to comply with nonmonetary bankruptcy requirements by not placing these names on the diocese’s website list of credibly accused clergy and lay people.
The diocese filed for bankruptcy in 2006 in response to mounting claims of clergy sexual abuse dating back decades and reached a settlement with abuse survivors in 2008 that included the commitment to post names of credibly accused abusers on the diocesan website. Under terms of the reorganization plan approved in bankruptcy court, the special arbitrator determined monetary awards based on a preponderance of evidence.
The Review Board, in considering claims against deceased priests who have no way of defending themselves, required greater proof called clear and convincing evidence.
Judge Jackwig acknowledged the different standards of proof in her Aug. 21 order. “The diocese may explain that its review process and evidentiary standard differ from those utilized by the Special Arbitrator under the terms of the confirmed plan,” she wrote.