Diocese of Des Moines Releases Names of Nine Sexually Abusive Priests

Bishop Richard Pates of the Diocese of Des Moines releases names of priests who sexually abused children from between the 1950s and 1990s. (WHO-HD)

DES MOINES, Iowa – The Catholic Diocese of Des Moines held a news conference Thursday morning to release the names of nine priests they admit sexually abused children.

Bishop Richard Pates released the names after offering an apology to victims and pledged the diocese has taken steps to stop the abuse.

Two of the nine names given by Pates had not been publicly released before – Paul Connelly and Dennis Mangan. Both are deceased.

Connelly faced one allegation for abusing a female in 1964. He was working as the Diocesan Director at Catholic Charities in Des Moines during that time. Connelly’s service within the Diocese had him working in Des Moines, Council Bluffs, Winterset, and Missouri Valley, among other locations between his ordination in 1950 and 1993. The allegation was reported in 2006, substantiated in 2007 and Connelly died before a canonical trial in 2007.

Mangan had two allegations brought against him for abusing female victims in the 1960s. He died in 1976 and the abuse was reported to the diocese in the early 2000s. Mangan was ordained in 1929 and worked in several communities in central and western Iowa including Des Moines, Council Bluffs, Winterset, Creston, and Pigsah.

The other men named are:

-Leonard Kenkel: Two allegations were unsubstantiated but in 2019 a third allegation brought forward in 2018 was substantiated. The victim is a male and the abuse took place in the early 1980s. He was removed from ministry in 2018 and his case has been referred to the Holy See.

-Albert Wilwerding: There were 25 allegations he abused males between the late 1950s and the mid 1980s. He was removed from ministry in 1981. He died in 2004, before being laicized.

-Francis Zuch: Five allegations were made he abused males in the early to mid 1970s. he died in 1993 and the allegations weren’t made public until 1995.

-Howard Fitzgerald: Two allegations were made he abused males in the late 1970s to late 1980s. He was removed from ministry in 2014. The allegation was substantiated in 2014 and he was laicized in 2015.

-Phil Hobt: There was one allegation he abused a male in 1997. It was substantiated in 2007 and he was laicized the same year. He died in 2017.

-John Ryan: Six allegations were made he abused males from the early 1950s to the 1980s. The allegations were substantiated in 2003 and he was laicized in 2006. He died in 2010.

-Richard Wagner: There was one allegation he abused a female in the late 1980s. The allegation was reported in 1993 and substantiated in 2003. He was laicized in 2006 and died in 2012.

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