Retired priest who served in Glenwood faces charges of invasion of privacy

A retired priest, who served for 10 years as pastor at Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Glenwood, has been charged with five counts of invasion of privacy, a serious misdemeanor, and suspended indefinitely from performing public ministry.

Rev. Paul Monahan, 83, who currently serves as a volunteer chaplain at St. Albert Catholic School in Council Bluffs, was arrested last week. The charges, filed by the Iowa Attorney General’s Office, stem from an alleged incident at a high school track meet last April in Treynor.

According to arrest documents,  the alleged incident took place in a restroom and involved five male students from one of the schools participating at the track meet. The students told authorities Monahan stepped back from one of the urinals to view their genitals and then left the restroom and track meet after being confronted. The students recorded the license plate number on his vehicle before he left. Monahan plans to plead not guilty to the charges, a Diocese of Des Moines news release stated.

Monahan was suspended July 8 from his ministerial duties when the diocese became aware he was the subject of a law enforcement investigation.

“The diocese’s first priority must be in creating a safe environment for children,” Bishop Richard Pates said. “The suspension remains in place until the matter is legally resolved.”

The diocese noted that an independent third-party audit of all diocesan living priests conducted in 2014 contained no evidence of inappropriate conduct by Monahan during his more than five decades of service to the Catholic church.

Monahan, a Portsmouth native, was ordained in 1960. He taught for four years at Dowling Catholic High School in West Des Moines before being assigned to teach at St.Albert High School in 1964, where he eventually became the principal in 1975. In 1979, he began parish ministry, serving at St. Columbanus in Weston, St. Mary in Avoca, St. Patrick in Walnut, Holy Family in Council Bluffs and St. Mary in Portsmouth before coming to Our Lady of the Holy Rosary in Glenwood, where he served from 1994-2004.

Known as an avid sports enthusiast and photographer, Monahan was a popular pastor and visible in the community during his time at Our Lady of the Holy Rosary.

Monahan moved to Council Bluffs  in 2004 after retiring from Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, but has remained in contact with many friends and families from the Glenwood parish.

Shortly into his retirement, Monahan returned to St. Albert School where he has been serving as a chaplain. He’s also filled in to perform ministerial duties when needed at churches throughout southwest Iowa.

Our Lady of the Holy Rosary parishioners were informed of the allegations against Monahan during weekend services. They were asked to pray for both Monahan and the alleged victims.

Parents of St. Albert School students were notified of the situation Friday in an e-mail  letter from Bishop Pates.

“Many of you are close to Father Paul, so I can understand the range of emotions which surface for you,” Pates said. “I encourage you to bring your concerns to the Lord in prayer, and to rely upon the excellent teachers, counselors and pastoral ministers in your school and community for spiritual guidance and support. You are always welcome to communicate with me about the matter.

“As always, my primary concern is for the safety of children and young people.  Know of my concern for you and my prayers during this time.  Let us go forward in prayer for Father Paul and the alleged victims stemming from this incident.”

A preliminary hearing for Monahan is scheduled for Sept. 16. Monahan’s attorney, Bill McGinn of Council Bluffs, said the charges are unfounded.

“I have not seen any evidence to collaborate the statements of the boys making the allegations,” McGinn said. “Paul Monahan denies any wrong doing and he has no history of inappropriate behavior.”

The Opinion-Tribune

116 S Walnut St Glenwood, IA 51534-1665
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