SIOUX CITY -- Leaders of the Diocese of Sioux City and the diocese's attorney will meet with Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller Thursday to discuss child sexual abuse allegations against clergy members.
Miller will meet with Bishop R. Walker Nickless, the Rev. Bradley Pelzel, vicar general of the diocese, and Sioux City attorney Mike Ellwanger. The four will discuss sex abuse issues in the diocese, how to move forward and the development of a list of priests who have been credibly accused, said Susan O'Brien, director of development and communications for the diocese.
Miller is meeting individually with each of the four Catholic bishops in Iowa. The meetings were requested by Archbishop Michael Jackels, archbishop of the Archdiocese of Dubuque, O'Brien said.
In a letter Tuesday to priests, deacons and other boards throughout the Sioux City Diocese, Nickless announced the meeting and other steps the dioceses is taking to address allegations of sexual abuse and the perception that church officials have kept information from the public.
"I know there is a lot of confusion, sadness and upset about clergy sexual abuse, past and present, as well as about information being shared in the news about clergy in our diocese," Walker wrote. "I am sorry that we are all going through this, and I am praying for all of you. I hope you also pray for me, our clergy, as well as the dedicated staff throughout our diocese."
Nickless shared a list of action steps the diocese is taking in addition to meeting with Miller.
-- A Diocesan Review Board of lay people has met twice in the past month and will meet again in two weeks to continue work on a list of credibly accused priests that will be released to the public, Nickless said. The diocese has said that it hopes to release the list by the end of the year.
-- The diocese is reviewing its policy of priests receiving pension benefits.
-- Nickless said the diocese continues to respond to those who contact the diocese with questions and concerns.
The diocese has come under scrutiny in the past month after a series of Associated Press reports disclosed that the diocese had covered up former priest Jerome Coyle's 1986 admission that he had sexually abused 50 boys during a 20-year period and the diocese had relocated him to a Fort Dodge, Iowa, retirement home across the street from a Catholic school without notifying school administrators or the public.
Another priest, Brian Danner, was removed from the ministry after a fourth-grader complained a year ago that he improperly rubbed the top of her leg while hearing her confession in Humboldt, Iowa. The diocese has denied that the public was kept in the dark about the case.
Most recently, the diocese acknowledged a five-year-old incident in which the Rev. Jeremy Wind, now assigned to the Cathedral of the Epiphany, was arrested in Sioux Center, Iowa, in 2013 while naked and after allegedly threatening to rape a woman. The diocese has said Wind had a mental health condition at the time and he has recovered through treatment and medication.
O'Brien said that in recent weeks, the diocese has heard from at least six adults who have reported incidents with priests that happened before 1985.
Nickless said anyone wishing to report an incident that occurred recently or in the past can call Angie Mack, victims assistance coordinator at Mercy Child Advocacy Center at (712) 279-5610 or toll free at 866-435-4397.