Joliet Priest Accused of Sexual Abuse Dead at 83
September 8, 2016
A former Joliet priest accused of sexual abuse in 2010 has died.
Father Francis Lee Ryan passed away Friday, Sept. 2. He was a resident at Watseka at the time of his death, according to his obituary. He was 83.
The alleged sexual abuse began in the 1970s when the then 14-year-old boy was a student at Providence Catholic High School, according to a Chicago Tribune article. The abuse lasted more than a year.
When news of the abuse broke in 2010, Joliet Diocese Bishop Daniel Conlon originally removed Ryan from ministry. Two years later, Conlon reversed his decision to allow Ryan to do “limited religious work by ministering to homebound parishioners in Watseka and Crescent City.” Conlon again reversed this decision a week later.
“For the sake of the greater good of the Church, I have decided to revoke my earlier permission and once again place Fr. Ryan on full administrative leave,” Conlon said in a 2012 article.
Phone messages seeking comment from Conlon on Ryan’s passing were not immediately returned.
Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests Director David Clohessy said in a statement that he is glad Ryan can no longer hurt kids.
“We’re glad too that his victims can hopefully sleep better at night knowing that he can’t assault any more children,” he said.
Clohessy said Conlon was “callous” in putting Ryan back into ministry and is being callous now by hiding his death.
The victim said in a 2012 statement published by SNAP that his experience in “this horrible, vulgar incident” reaches beyond him.
“It includes family members, other past and current victims who may be still hiding their pain, and even many of the parishioners of the church, who either believe, or don’t want to believe that these crimes are committed by the faithful leaders of the church,” the victim said.
Ryan was born Aug. 14, 1933. He received his Masters of Theology and had been a member of the Army, according to his obituary.
In December 2015, a former Joliet bishop accused of covering up sex abuse scandals died at age 84.
photo via Patch archives