The Iowa Attorney General’s Office has released its review of clergy abuse in the state’s four Catholic dioceses more than two years after announcing the review in November 2018. Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller began to focus on clergy sexual abuse after the release of the Pennsylvania attorney general’s report, which was highly critical of the church’s response to abuse in that state.
In a June 23 news release, the Iowa Attorney General’s office said, “The report concludes that while the Catholic Church in Iowa had a long, painful history of abuse by priests and a cover-up by officials, the Dioceses have enacted many reforms over the last two decades. The Dioceses have become more responsive to victims of clergy abuse and each now reports all accusations to law enforcement authorities” (https://www.iowaattorneygeneral.gov/newsroom/clergy-abuse-ag-review).
The bishops of Iowa’s four dioceses and the Diocese of Davenport issued statements in response to the Iowa Attorney General’s report. Collectively, through the Iowa Catholic Conference, the state’s four bishops said the report “will be studied for suggestions on how the efforts of the Catholic Church might be improved. The Catholic Church is committed to doing all that is humanly possible to protect minors from the sin and crime of clergy sexual abuse, and to promote healing. Policies and procedures in place provide for responding to each allegation, cooperating with civil authorities, removing offenders from ministry, and being held accountable.”
Bishop Thomas Zinkula, in his statement, said: “I apologize for abuse by clergy that occurred in the past. In 2002, the bishops of the United States made significant and sweeping changes to the Church’s role in protecting children and vulnerable adults. As a result, we respond promptly and compassionately to victims, report the alleged abuse of minors to civil authorities, remove offenders following a review of allegations by lay experts in relevant fields, and submit to third-party annual audits.”
“Since 2003, the Diocese of Davenport has provided ongoing safe environment training sessions for adults and children. We also have completed background checks on Church employees and volunteers working with children, which are renewed every five years.”
“These efforts have helped. The Diocese of Davenport has not received a founded report of child sexual abuse that occurred in the past 33 years. Nevertheless, our Church and society need to continue to be vigilant in providing safe environments for children to thrive and grow.”
“The hotline provided by the Attorney General for reporting sexual abuse will assist victims of abuse. It will supplement the Diocese’s long-standing policy of reporting allegations of sexual abuse to the Scott County Attorney and to the Victim Assistance Coordinator for the Diocese.”
“Our efforts are inspired by the teachings of Jesus and his Church: that it is right and good to respond to the sin and crime of clergy sexual abuse with sorrow, repentance, amendment of life, justice, and efforts to repair the harm done. We appreciate the Attorney General’s respective concern for victims of sexual abuse and for offering us an opportunity to highlight the work we have done for the protection of children.”
Bishop Zinkula’s statement includes information on how to report child sexual abuse:
• Call the Iowa Attorney General Clergy Abuse hotline at 855-620-7000 to speak with an advocate.
• Contact the Iowa Department of Human Services Child Abuse Hotline: 800-362-2178
• If the abuse involves clergy or church personnel, also notify Alicia Owens, LBSW, Victim Assistance Coordinator, (563) 349-5002 | P.O. Box 232 Bettendorf, IA 52722-0004 | firstname.lastname@example.org