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  Home :: 2007 September :: Sex abuse victim gets help for others

Sex abuse victim gets help for others

As part of an Iowa native's lawsuit settlement, the D.M. diocese donates money for children's counseling.

 A survivor of childhood sexual abuse by a Des Moines Catholic diocesepriest has taken action to help children similarly betrayed by trustedadults.

As part of his lawsuit settlement with the Diocese ofDes Moines, Henry Wadle required the church to make a charitablecontribution to an organization assisting in the fight against theeffects of childhood sexual abuse.

This week, Orchard Place announced the establishment of the Orchard Place Endow Iowa Fund for Survivors of Sexual Abuse.

"Mysituation was not unlike that faced by many school aged children in the'60s and '70s," Wadle said in a letter to Nancy Bobo, vice president ofOrchard Place. "I could no longer stand silent while the suffering ofthese children, now grown men and women, continued. Fortunately, wewere able to resolve my matter in a way that will allow me to get thehelp I need. Somehow, that resolution by itself did not seem adequate.There was a void to be filled."

Wadle, who lives in Alaska, grewup in Lacona and was a member of St. Mary's Catholic parish in Lacona.His abuser was the Rev. Albert Wilwerding, who was assigned from 1969to 1979 to St. Mary's of Perpetual Help in Rosemount.

The priestasked Wadle and other boys to assist with Mass in the summer and dowork around the rectory. On one of those overnight visits, Wadlealleges he was first sexually abused by the priest.

In September2004, the diocese named Wilwerding as one of three priests against whomthere were credible allegations of abuse. Wilwerding agreed to beremoved from the priesthood, but he died in September 2004 before theVatican took action.

Wadle filed a John Doe lawsuit in June 2006against the Des Moines diocese, charging that it knew Wilwerding was anabuser, moved him from parish to parish, and did not warn parents ofthe danger.

In January, the diocese paid Wadle $225,000 andwrote a check for $10,000 "to a child protection charity organization"in the name of victims of clergy sex abuse, according to Anne MarieCox, a diocese spokeswoman.

As a youth, Wadle did not haveaccess to or even know about the possibility of counseling, he said. Soas settlement with the diocese neared, he decided to do something tomake sure there were no new victims and to "restore, to the degreepossible, the trust, joy and confidence stolen from these childhoodvictims."

After researching treatment options in the Des Moinesarea, Wadle sent Orchard Place the $10,000 check. He placed norestrictions on its use, except that the money must aid the victims ofchildhood sexual abuse.

Working with the Des Moines CommunityFoundation, Orchard Place set up an endowment, which it hopes will growto provide continuing treatment for young sex abuse survivors.

Wadle'sstipulation and the diocese's donation are unique, according toattorneys who have negotiated similar settlements with Iowa's Catholicdioceses.

"To my knowledge, there have been no directcontributions," said Davenport attorney Craig Levien. "Many abusesurvivors have privately made contributions to help children from theirsettlements, but this agreement seems fairly unique."

With themoney generated by the endowment, Orchard Place plans to extendcounseling and treatment to child abuse victims and parents who havebeen unable to afford or access programs, Bobo said.

"We hope Mr. Wadle's gift will benefit children into perpetuity," she said.

That is exactly what Wadle hoped would happen, according to Patrick Hopkins, Wadle's attorney.

"Itcame from his own experience," Hopkins said. "He wants (abusesurvivors) to get better care than what he went through as a child.He's a very thoughtful individual, a very kind man."

Religion Editor Shirley Ragsdale can be reached at (515) 284-8208 or

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Pedophilia and sexual abuse of children in Australia