'A Roman Catholic diocese acknowledged Wednesday that it concealed for decades a priest’s admission that he sexually abused dozens of Iowa boys — a silence that may have put other children in danger.
The Rev. Jerome Coyle, now 85, was stripped of his parish assignments in the 1980s but never defrocked. And it was not until this week, after The Associated Press inquired about him, that he was publicly identified by the church as an admitted pedophile, even though the Diocese of Sioux City had been aware of his conduct for 32 years.
The diocese recently helped Coyle move into a retirement home in Fort Dodge, Iowa, without informing administrators at the Catholic school across the street.
In 1986, Coyle reported his “history of sexual attraction to and contact with boys” to Sioux City’s bishop, revealing that he had victimized approximately 50 youngsters over a 20-year period while serving in several Iowa parishes , according to a private letter written in February by the diocese vicar general and obtained by the AP.
The diocese told the AP on Wednesday that it never contacted police or informed the public after Coyle’s admission.
“The diocese admits it could have been handled better,” diocese spokeswoman Susan O’Brien said. But she said the policies in place at the time did not call for notifying police or the public.
Instead, the diocese at the time announced without explanation that Coyle was taking a six-month medical leave of absence. Church officials transferred him to a treatment center in New Mexico, the Servants of the Paraclete, where other accused priests nationwide were once commonly sent.'
Read more: Catholic church covered up Iowa priest’s abuse of 50 boys
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