Man Alleges Sexual Abuse in Woodstock Parish in '70s

By Crystal Yednak
Chicago Tribune
February 10, 2006,1,3656211.story?coll=chi-newslocalnorthwest-hed

A Colorado man filed a lawsuit Thursday against a former Catholic priest and the Rockford Catholic Diocese, alleging the priest sexually abused him at St. Mary Parish in Woodstock in the late 1970s.

William Joffe was removed from the priesthood in November 1993 after he was sentenced to a year in prison for embezzling $264,000 from one of his parishes. Rockford diocese officials said Joffe also had been accused of sexual misconduct then.

The lawsuit filed in Cook County Circuit Court on Thursday alleges that Joffe sexually abused Andrew Howell when Howell was about 8 years old. The abuse allegedly took place between 1976 and 1979, when Joffe was pastor of the church. The boy accompanied Joffe on retreats to a farm, according to the suit.

The lawsuit says that Howell repressed memories of the abuse until February 2004.

Reached at his Florida home Thursday, Joffe said he had no comment on the lawsuit.

The diocese, which covers northwestern Illinois, issued a statement Thursday saying that it made allegations against Joffe public in 2004 in the interest of being more open in its handling of sexual misconduct allegations against priests.

The diocese received the first allegation against Joffe in 1993, Thursday's statement said. The sexual misconduct with a minor allegedly occurred in 1965 while Joffe was at St. Patrick Parish in Dixon. In 2002, another man came forward, saying Joffe engaged in sexual misconduct with him in 1973, when he was a minor, while at St. Mary Parish in Morrison.

In addition to Howell's allegations, the diocese in 2004 received a separate report about Joffe at the Woodstock church, but the sexual misconduct was said to have taken place in 1983.


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