The Dubuque Catholic Diocese announced this week it will settle a lawsuit by a man who says he was abused by a priest in 1983. The Cedar Rapids man had sued the diocese and the Reverend William Schwartz, who was removed from the priesthood more than a decade ago. Steve Theisen is a co-founder of the northeastern Iowa chapter of SNAP, the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests. He says it’s far from the end of lawsuits over priests who’ve abused children. Theisen says there are cases in Sioux City, Davenport, Dubuque and Des Moines, and says till bishops in those four diocese of Iowa “start telling a safe community exactly the truth,” he thinks such lawsutis are going to go on for quite some time. Theisen says it’s very important bishops talk openly about abusive priests and the molestation of children, for the sake of healing both families and Catholic parishes. Thiesen says “people like to sweep it under the rug,” but it’s a terrible crime against children whether it’s a clergyman, a stranger or a family member abusing children, and society needs to talk about it and be aware of the problem. Theisen says only that awareness can prevent more young victims from being abused. Theisen says victims end up suffering in shame and silence, though they didn’t do anything wrong and were just children at the time. “It just eats at the inner soul,” he says, “and we find some way to cope with it, whether it’s alcoholism, drugs, promiscuity, rage.” He says they don’t realize till the third or fourth failed marriage, bar fight or DWI that something’s wrong. And Theisen says the pain of a child abused by clergy is not limited to the victim. “We affect not only our own lives but those that try to love us,” he says. Theisen says he’s angry with all the bishops who’ve failed to come out and name all the riests who’ve had accusations made against them. This week’s out-of-court settlement involves a 100-thousand-dollar payment by the Dubuque diocese to a man who says he was molested when he was an eighth-grader attending St Jude’s Catholic Church and school in Cedar Rapids.
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