Davenport bishop wants abusive priest defrocked

Des Moines Register/February 15, 2008

The bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Davenport has requested that the Vatican defrock a priest who sexually abused children more than 30 years ago.

Bishop Martin Amos announced Thursday he would follow the recommendation of the Diocesan Review Board by requesting that the Vatican defrock the Rev. Gerald Stouvenel.

Amos placed Stouvenel on administrative leave in July while an investigation was done regarding the credibility of four claims of abuse that arose as part of the diocese's bankruptcy proceedings. The review board evaluates the claims and makes recommendations to the bishop.

"It really validates and vindicates the reports they (victims) have made and the fact they weren't the only ones who were victimized," said attorney Craig Levien, who represents three men who filed abuse claims against Stouvenel.

Amos said Stouvenel will continue to work under supervision in the St. Vincent Center in Davenport during the defrocking process.

Stouvenel was ordained in 1972 and served as dean of the Keokuk Deanery since July 2005. His assignments include associate pastor at Davenport's Sacred Heart Cathedral and St. Mary in West Point, as well as pastor at Catholic churches in Camanche, West Burlington, Dodgeville, Burlington and Fort Madison. Stouvenel was also on the faculty at Davenport Assumption High School.

The diocese filed for bankruptcy in 2006 and is waiting for court approval of its reorganization plan. The diocese has agreed to a $37 million settlement for 156 claims of clergy abuse.

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