A Catholic priest has started the process to leave the priesthood after a complaint that he molested a child. Early in February, Father Philip Hobt was placed on leave from his job at St. Albert Catholic Schools in Council Bluffs. Des Moines Diocese spokeswoman Ann Marie Cox says an investigation began then, in response to the complaint.
The Diocese today announced that Father Hobt has begun the process to voluntarily ask the Pope for permission to leave the priesthood. At the same time, Cox says the Diocesan Allegation Review Committee finished its investigation into the charge and concluded that the allegation that Hobt had molested a minor was "credible."
That review committee handed a recommendation to Bishop Joseph Charron before his retirement earlier this month, advising that he seek removal from the priesthood for Hobt. The priest started that process, and the Diocese will continue it. The diocese has said only that the allegation came from a former student at St. Albert Schools in Council Bluffs. Father Hobt was a teacher there from 1995 up until his suspension early in February.
The priest before that had served three years at St. Augustin Parish in Des Moines, after being ordained in 1992. The church won’t file any charges, and whether criminal action results from the charge will be up to law enforcement. Following diocesan policy, they notified law-enforcement authorities.
Cox says, "We certainly wouldn’t want to impede or interfere i any investigation that they might pursue." She says that Council Bluffs police are not investigation, but the church did notify them immediately, even before the Bishop took action concerning the priest. She says the Diocese is urging any other victims of abuse by clergy to contact the church. They can contact the victims’ advocate for counseling, or to file a complaint about their abuse or the abuse of a family member.
Cox says they take the allegations very seriously and hope people know they’re welcome to make reports.