Diocese says Iowa priest who threatened rape has recovered

Friday, November 30, 2018

The northwest Iowa Roman Catholic diocese is defending its decision to continue employing a priest who told police he was trying to rape a woman when he was arrested with his pants off in an Iowa mall in 2013.

The Diocese of Sioux City issued a statement this week for the first time acknowledging the 5-year-old incident involving the Rev. Jeremy Wind, calling it a “mental health episode” from which the priest had recovered with the help of medication and psychiatric treatment. The diocese gave no details about what occurred other than terming it a “public mental health incident” and told parishioners the scrutiny was unfortunate and unnecessary because “there is nothing newsworthy to report.”

Fr. Wind formerly served St. Mary’s Parish in Storm Lake and St. Joseph Parish in Schaller along with several other assignments.

The diocese statement came in response to inquiries from The Associated Press, which used the state’s open records law to shed light on a criminal case that was recently erased from public court files.

Police reports show Wind, 39, was meeting with a female parishioner at a bakery in December 2013 when he began behaving erratically. He had just celebrated Mass at Christ the King church in Sioux Center. Wind told the woman he was going to masturbate and took off his pants, prompting her to run away, she later told police. Wind chased her to her car, where she locked the door as he yelled about raping her and pounded on the vehicle’s window.

“I was so horrified, I thought what am I going to do?” the woman told police, in a statement obtained by AP. “I sat for awhile because I didn’t want to hurt him. When he started banging so hard that I thought he was going to break the window, I drove away.”

A Sioux Center police officer found Wind at the nearby Centre Mall, where he said he had no pants on because he “wanted to rape her” and instructed the officer to write that statement down, a report shows. He later said that he also wanted to rape the officer.

Wind ripped off the officer’s name tag and punched the officer, a report shows. He was handcuffed on the ground as a deputy pointed a Taser at him.

Wind was charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct in a criminal complaint that didn’t mention the woman or his statements about rape. Under a September 2014 plea bargain, he received a deferred judgment, paid a $200 fine and was put on “informal probation” for one year. The agreement said Wind was “experiencing mania along with psychosis which prevented him from understanding his conduct at that time” of the incident.

All records related to the case disappeared from the Iowa courts online database this year, after Wind was transferred to the Cathedral of the Epiphany in Sioux City.

Sioux County Attorney Tom Kunstle said the AP would have to seek a court order to get him to answer any questions about the case. He summarily rejected an open records request for his correspondence related to the matter.

Wind received counseling and medical treatment for mental illness and “has since provided exemplary spiritual and priestly care to his parishioners,” the diocese said. Wind is on medication and follows “a lifestyle regimen that enables him to function without problems,” according to the diocese.

The diocese indicated it had not planned to make any public statement on Fr. Wind until it became clear the media was going to report on the incident.

“We are disappointed that anyone would use an individual’s mental health incident as an opportunity to portray the priests of the Diocese of Sioux City in a negative manner. Fr. Wind has always been open to questions regarding his mental health and is an advocate for anyone who may be struggling with their own mental health issues,” the diocese said.

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