James M. Janssen

Photograph taken from https://www.bishop-accountability.org/accused/janssen-james-m-1948/
NameJames M. JanssenParish Priest
Date of Birth1922 
Date of Ordination1948 
Association with LUC1956-1958 
Position at LUCGraduate student, psychological counseling 
Date of incident, Location of Incident1953-1962Sacred Heart Church, Newton, IA
 1958Hinsdale, IL
 1959Delmar, IA
 1960Davenport, IA
 1961-1966Fort Madison, IA
 1967-1979Sugar Creek, IA, Tennessee, Florida, Davenport, IA
 1983Grand Mound, IA
Number of victims/accusationsAt least 39 individual victims 
Case statusCharged, settled 
Status of IndividualDeceased6/10/15

Fr. James Janssen, another parish priest, joined Loyola University Chicago in 1956. Janssen came from the diocese of Davenport, Iowa, and had previously been incardinated as assistant pastor. Janssen, as it turned out, was a serial child abuser: over the past decades thirty-seven victims were identified. He mostly occupied positions in the Iowa church that allowed him extended contact to children, with little supervision. He worked at schools, at an orphanage, and with the Boy Scouts. He was sent to another diocese after other priests who had worked with Janssen approached their Bishop, urging him that “something should be done before the blow-up comes and the Church suffer.”[1]

 Janssen spent his leave of absence at Loyola University Chicago, beginning in 1956. There he took up graduate studies – the field is unknown – and underwent psychological counseling. At that point he had already abused a sizable number of boys between the ages of five and thirteen, including his own nephew. At Loyola, Janssen underwent extensive psychotherapeutic counselling..

During his time at Loyola University Chicago from 1956 to 1958, he also worked at the parochial school of St. Isaac Jogues in Hinsdale, Illinois, a western suburb of Chicago. There he worked with teenagers and boy scouts—and began to groom and engage in a sexually abusive relationship with a local altar boy. This relationship went on for over a year, during which Janssen graduated from Loyola. In 1958 he was re-assigned as substitute pastor to St. Michael’s parish in Holbrook, Iowa.

 After Janssen’s retirement and in the wake of the 2002 Boston cases, many of his former victims stepped forward, suing the priest along with the Davenport diocese in 2003. Given the large number of victims present in Davenport, the diocese eventually filed for bankruptcy, after having to pay $37 million to a stunning 157 survivors—not all of whom were victims of the Janssen.[2] Janssen’s victims received $9 million in a settlement, and Janssen was sent to prison for six months. He was laicized in 2004 and passed away in 2015.[3]

[1] MJD, “Letter to Bishop Hayes,” October 14, 1955, Bishop Accountability, https://www.bishop-accountability.org/ia-davenport/archives/jnw-ex-06-J-34.pdf.

[2] Associated Press, “Davenport Diocese Reaches $37 Million Settlement with Priest Abuse Victims, Associated Press, Carried in Courier, December 4, 2007,” The Courier, December 4, 2007, https://www.bishop-accountability.org/news2007/11_12/2007_12_04_AP_DavenportDiocese.htm.

[3] “Janssen, James M., Assignment Record.”