Father Paul Monahan, who was the school chaplain for Council Bluffs St. Albert Catholic School, was convicted by a judge of 5 counts of invasion of privacy after teenage boys testified he purposely moved back to look at them while they used a public urinal next to him during a track meet in Treynor in April of 2016.
Monahan said in his defense that he had several health issues that caused him to need to go to the bathroom frequently. He also testified the health conditions caused him balance issues that led to his movement. His doctor testified about Monahan’s medical issue and the athletic director at St. Albert also testified he noticed that Monahan had to go to the bathroom more often, and was unsteady when he walked.
Former Pottawattamie County Sheriff Lynn Ford testified that there were problems with the investigation by law enforcement because the witnesses were not interviewed until several weeks after the incident. Ford also stated officials should have done more to determine the extent to which the witnesses discussed the incident with each other before they were interviewed.
The Iowa Court of Appeals overturned the convictions –saying the prosecution failed to show the boys had a reasonable expectation of privacy in the public urinals. It also says there is limited evidence to show Monahan knowingly viewed the genitals of the five boys and no evidence beyond that to show he was acting for the purpose of arousing or gratifying his sexual desires.
Bishop Richard Pates of the Des Moines Catholic Diocese issued this statement after the ruling:
“I am very pleased to inform you that the Court of Appeals of Iowa has reversed the guilty decision of the District Court for Pottawattamie County in the case of Father Paul Monahan. Along with Father Monahan we are relieved that this decision has been reached and anticipate that Father will be fully reinstated to priestly ministry once the appeal process has been completed. We commend Father and his legal team for pursuing the normal judicial recourse available to him with patience and persistence in achieving this welcome outcome. Our prayer and support continue to be with Father at this time.”
Here’s the ruling: Monahan-decision-PDF