Fr. John Schmitz – Diocese of San Bernardino

Father John Schmitz

Diocese of San Bernardino

John Schmitz Horowitz Law

Ordained: 1957

Died: 1991

Assigned as follows:

  • 1957-1958: Immaculate Conception Church (Lansing, IA)
  • 1958-1960: Sacred Heart (Dubuque, IA)
  • 1960-1965: St. Joseph’s Church (New Hampton, IA)
  • 1965-1970: St. Joseph’s (Mason City, IA)
  • 1970-1973: All Saints (Cedar Rapids, IA)
  • 1973-1974: St. Mary Church (Manchester, IA)
  • 1973-1974: St. Joseph’s (Greeley, IA)
  • 1974-1975: St. Peter Church (Clermont, IA)
  • 1976-1979: Sacred Heart Church (St. Anthony, IA)
  • 1975-1979: St. Gabriel (Zearing, IA)
  • 1979-1982: St. Mary (Greene, IA)
  • 1982: Leave of absence

Summary of Abuse Allegations against Father John Schmitz:

According to media reports, in 2003, Fr. John Schmitz was named in a lawsuit against the Diocese of San Bernardino and the Archdiocese of Dubuque, alleging that he sexually abused a girl as a minor. Another woman sued the Diocese of San Bernardino and the Archdiocese of Dubuque, in 2005, alleging that Schmitz raped her in 1959, when she was a 12-year-old student at Sacred Heart School, in Dubuque, Iowa. The lawsuit stated that the diocese knew of the assault within about a year because the girl told another priest in confession. That priest took then her to the archdiocese offices, where she recounted what happened. When confronted, Schmitz signed a confession, according to the lawsuit.

According to media reports, the girl’s family was warned not to speak publicly about the rape, “because there was a Roman Catholic running for president (John F. Kennedy) and because such a story would make the front pages and would hurt his chances to win the presidency.” 

Schmitz was permitted to continue working as a priest and served at seven more Iowa parishes. According to media reports, parishioners had complained about his financial skills, his relationship with an adult woman in 1982, as well as his inappropriate behavior with minor girls. He was working at St. Mary Parish in Greene, Iowa when he was removed from active duty in 1982. He was sent to the Paraclete Center, an institution known for treating priests accused of child sexual abuse. After treatment, he was not allowed back into the Archdiocese of Dubuque. 

He accepted an assignment in the Diocese of San Bernardino in January 1983. According to the Diocese of San Bernardino, Schmitz allegedly sexually abused a minor in 1985. He was told to leave the Diocese of San Bernardino and reported back to his home Diocese without privileges, in April 1985. The police were notified in May. 

The second suit was settled in mediation in February 2006. In 2010, as part of a settlement with survivors of clergy sexual abuse, the Diocese of San Diego and Dubuque released Schmitz’s personnel file. In October 2018, his name was included in the Diocese of San Bernardino’s list of clergy credibly accused of child sexual abuse. 

Schmitz died in October 1991. 

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Diocese of San Bernardino. If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a priest in San Bernardino, contact our office today. Although many years have passed, those abused by Catholic clergy in the Diocese of San Bernardino now have legal options to recover damages due to a compensation fund created for victims. Call us at (888) 283-9922 or send an email to adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com to discuss your options today.