'Credible Accusation' of Sexual Misconduct Leveled against Deceased Diocesan Priest

By Deacon Eric Meisfjord
Inland Register
October 2, 2003

A credible accusation of sexual misconduct has been made against Joseph Pineau (right), a deceased priest of the Spokane Diocese. (IR photo from the Spokane Diocesan Archives)

Last summer, the Diocese of Spokane altered its policy regarding accusations of sexual abuse leveled against deceased priests of the diocese.

Prior to that time, the diocese did not release the names of the deceased priests, even when a credible accusation had been made.

In the June 12, 2003 edition of the Inland Register, the diocese announced a change in its policy, approved by Bishop Skylstad.

If a credible accusation of sexual misconduct by a deceased diocesa priest was received by the diocese from the victim of that misconduct, the diocese would release the name of the priest to the public.

The change in policy was a development and continuation of Bishop Skylstad's public commitment to healing and reconciliation for victims of clergy sexual abuse and misconduct. Releasing the names of deceased, credibly accused priests might encourage other victims to come forward and seek the help they needed to heal.

In keeping with that revised policy, Bishop Skylstad announced Sept. 22 that he had accepted the recommendation of the Diocesan Review Board to publish the name of a deceased former Spokane Diocesan priest, Joseph Pineau. In the view of both the bishop and the Board, Pineau was credibly accused of an incident of sexual misconduct.

Pineau was pastor of St. Francis Xavier Parish, Spokane, for about 30 years. Father Daniel Barnett, present pastor of the parish, announced the bishop's decision to parishioners at Masses the weekend of Sept. 20-21.

The bishop said the incident, which was recently reported to the diocese, occurred 36 years ago and involved an adolescent in a counseling situation. In the opinion of the bishop, and that of the Board, the evidence was credible that Pineau engaged in inappropriate activity.

Pineau was a priest in the Spokane Diocese from 1932 until his retirement in 1968. He died in 1982 at the age of 83.

Joseph Pineau was born in Prince Edward Island, Canada, on May 7, 1898. After priestly formation he was ordained May 22, 1932. The following July he took up his first assignment in the Diocese of Spokane, as assistant pastor at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes.

In 1932 he was named pastor of the parish in Marcus and its missions, including Northport, while retaining his residence at the Cathedral.

From September 1934 to August 1938 he was assistant pastor of the Cathedral. He also served as secretary to Bishop Charles White, then Bishop of Spokane.

In August 1938 he began his last, and longest, assignment, as pastor of St. Francis Xavier Parish, Spokane.

Other service included an appointment as Dean of the St. Francis Xavier Deanery, a geographical division utilized in the Spokane Diocese in those days to ease administrative proceedings.

He also served as Diocesan Director of Cemeteries, and provided leadership for the campaign to fund the diocese's minor seminary, Mater Cleri in Colbert.

He retired in 1968 and was residing in California at the time of his death.

When he made the announcement, Bishop Skylstad repeated his request for victims to come forward and identify their abusers.

"I want to reiterate what I've said numerous times: If there are any victims of abuse by priests, whether those priests are living or dead, we want to know about it, we want to report it, we want to offer counseling and we want to help victims begin to heal," he said.


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