The Diocese of Des Moines
Priest Suspended
August 29, 2016
Written By: Anne Marie Cox

The Iowa Attorney General’s Office has charged Father Paul Monahan with five counts of invasion of privacy, a serious misdemeanor.

The charges stem from an alleged incident involving Father Monahan at a high school track meet in April, 2016.   

Father Monahan plans to plead not guilty.

Bishop Richard Pates first became aware on Friday, July 8 that law enforcement was investigating such an allegation against Father Monahan.  According to diocesan protocol, Bishop Pates immediately suspended the retired priest from all public ministry while the investigation and adjudication are ongoing.  The diocese’s first priority must be in creating a safe environment for children.  The suspension remains in place until the matter is legally resolved.

An independent third party conducted an audit of all diocesan files of living priests, including Father Monahan, in July 2014.  This audit contained no evidence of inappropriate conduct by Father Monahan. 

The Des Moines diocesan Allegation Review Committee has been informed of the law enforcement investigation. The Allegation Review Committee, whose membership includes a judge, a police chief, an attorney, a licensed clinical social worker, a priest and a permanent deacon, has been in existence since 2002 to provide accountability and transparency with regard to church response to sexual misconduct allegations in the diocese. 

Father Monahan was ordained in 1960 and retired in 2004.

He taught at Dowling Catholic High School in West Des Moines for four years after ordination and then was assigned to serve as a teacher at St. Albert High School in Council Bluffs. In 1975, he became principal of St. Albert High School.

In 1979, he began parish ministry. He served St. Columbanus in Weston, St. Mary in Avoca, St. Patrick in Walnut, Holy Family in Council Bluffs, St. Mary in Portsmouth and Our Lady of the Holy Rosary in Glenwood.

In retirement, he has served at St. Albert Schools as a senior chaplain.

On behalf of the Diocese of Des Moines, Bishop Pates extends apologies to those who perceived violation of privacy.  He urges prayer for all involved, including Father Monahan.  He stated: “We must allow the law to run full course before further steps are taken by Church authorities.” 

The Diocese of Des Moines encourages victims of sexual abuse by clergy and their families to contact the diocesan Victim Assistance Advocate for counseling opportunities or to file a complaint. Victim Assistance Advocate Sherry Knox, who works at Polk County Crisis & Advocacy Services, can be reached at 515-286-2028 or email advocate@dmdiocese.org or sherry.knox@polkcountyiowa.gov.  The victim is also encouraged to report to local civic authorities.


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