Another sex-abuse lawsuit has been filed against the Dubuque Catholic Archdiocese. An Indiana woman says she attended St. John’s school in Waterloo in the early 1960s and this week she filed a civil complaint in federal court in Cedar Rapids outlining details of her abuse by a priest there. Steve Theisen is a co-founder of the local chapter of SNAP, the Survivors Network for Those Abused by Priests. When one survivor comes forward, he says it gives strength to the next one who might be considering it, and in this case Theisen says it’ll help women, since “not just young boys were abused, but also young girls.” The complaint says the woman told a nun at the school what was happening, and her parents went to police. She charges that church officials visited them at home and threatened to excommunicate the girl and her family if they told anyone of the abuse. Theisen says people wonder why victims wait so long to tell their stories, and he says this is an example of the barriers they faced. Theisen says this plaintiff, as a girl, told a nun, told the police and the pastors, “And absolutely nothing was done to this perpetrator, except to ship ‘im to a parish up in Colesburg, Iowa.” Theissen says the survivors’ group helps people abused by not only priests but nuns as well, and he says when they were not perpetrators they often allowed or helped abuse to take place. He says “nuns knew, or should have known, what was going on.” He says some feel badly about realizing later what was happening, when a priest would call over to the school regularly to tell them to send a child over to the rectory or somewhere “and the nun would just naturally comply.” The diocese has not named priests who are accused in a series of lawsuits, though Theisen points out Archbishop Jerome Hanus sent a list of seven names to the Vatican to ask the Pope to remove them from the priesthood months ago and still has not told the public who they are.
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