Sex Accuser ID'd in 2004 Diocese Suit

By Edith C. Webster
Rockford Register Star
February 10, 2006


A man who previously made allegations of sexual misconduct against a priest filed a lawsuit this week against him and the Catholic Diocese of Rockford.

Andrew Howell, address unknown, filed a suit in Cook County against the diocese and William Joffe, who previously served as a priest in the diocese.

"We have referred the matter to our legal counsel, but there is nothing new here, other than the complainant's name," Owen Phelps, spokesman for the diocese, said in a written statement. "This case has been a matter of public record since June 2004."

Joffe served a year in prison in 1992 for embezzling more than $265,000 from a parish in Harvard. He was dismissed from priestly duties in 1993 by then-Bishop Arthur J. O'Neill.

In June 2004, the diocese announced that two adult males had made separate allegations against Joffe in March 2004. The incidents of sexual misconduct allegedly happened in 1979 and 1983, while Joffe was pastor at St. Mary Parish in Woodstock.

The diocese also received allegations about the priest in 1993 and 2002, for incidents going back as far as 1965. No criminal charges have been filed.

Joffe was 73 years old and living out of state when abuse allegations were originally made public. His current residence could not be confirmed.


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