Concerns have re-surfaced over a priest who’s the target of more than half-a-dozen lawsuits charging he abused children years ago. James Janssen is a retired priest in the Davenport Diocese, and this week church leaders were told by another priest who’s served as a foster parent that Janssen attended a workshop for foster and adoptive parents. Diocese attorney Rand Wonio says Janssen is NOT on the state’s list of sex offenders because his victims all say they were molested years ago and the state’s statute of limitations is up. Wonio says Janssen could still face consequences from the suits against the diocese that also name him as a defendant. Janssen’s named in the lawsuits, along with the diocese, so if a jury finds against him and grants damages, so if a jury finds against him, people who’ve been injured by Janssen could collect, if they find any assets. Attorney Wonio says after investigating the claims of people who said they’d been molested, the diocese sent a request to the Pope at the Vatican to laicize or defrock Janssen, officially removing him from the priesthood even though he retired years ago. It isn’t common around the Davenport diocese, he says, adding he doesn’t know of any other priest in the diocese who’s been defrocked. He says “media has reported” that it’s new around the state generally, but the Davenport diocese has also requested four others — and has been told that there are so many requests pending at the Vatican that the process is very slow. He says they were “lucky” to get the official response in Janssen as quickly as they did. On September 24 the diocese received official notice that Janssen would be de-laicized.
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