McHenry County References in Attorney General’s Report on Catholic Clergy Sex Abuse – Part 5

Here is a Priest from the Attorney General’s report that served in Harvard, Hartland and Woodstock:


Father William Joffe made headlines for all the wrong reasons.

In October 1991, he pleaded guilty in a Wisconsin federal court to two counts of bank fraud and one count of interstate transportation of a fraudulent check. His crime was diverting more than $260,000 in funds belonging to Saint Joseph in Harvard, where he had been assigned as a pastor from 1983 to 1987.

The Chicago Tribune’s coverage of the ordeal revealed that some parishioners were not surprised by Joffe’s wrongdoing; he had been involved in several failed business ventures (including a horse farm, resort, and restaurant) and, according to a lifelong member of the parish, “didn’t act like a priest” but rather “like a businessman.”

After serving a year in prison for his financial fraud, Joffe reemerged as a sacramental priest assigned to Saint Patrick in Amboy.

Apparently the Diocese of Rockford concluded he was worthy of a second chance. Only a few months later, however, in August 1993, Joffe was abruptly yanked from the parish. And this landed him back in the headlines.

“Town Bewildered by Priest’s Removal,” the Chicago SunTimes announced in September 1993. The paper reported that Amboy parishioners were willing “to embrace a somewhat sullied man of the cloth”—and even viewed his arrival as “cause for celebration”—because the town had been left without a priest upon the retirement of the prior pastor. But Joffe’s sudden disappearance left residents facing a “big mystery” and “questions about his forced departure.” And despite repeated overtures, the diocese refused to offer any explanation for Joffe’s removal. “We’ve been left in the dark,” one parishioner told the Sun-Times. “I think at the present time it’s all rumor and innuendo,” Amboy’s mayor added.

What was the diocese keeping under wraps? In early 1993, a survivor came forward to the diocese to report he had been sexually abused by Joffe. The abuse occurred in the late 1960s when Joffe was assigned to Saint Patrick in Dixon—just a few miles away from his assignment in Amboy. In fact, the survivor was prompted to share his experience in part because of the news that Joffe had returned to the area; he said he worried about the safety of relatives who still lived there.

Joffe did not deny sexually abusing the survivor—and the diocese was sufficiently alarmed to refer Joffe for a psychiatric evaluation. In July 1993, Bishop Arthur O’Neill told Joffe to vacate his parish immediately.

Yet none of this was revealed to the Amboy parishioners—or those in any of the other parishes to which Joffe had been assigned over his 35 years in the diocese.

To the contrary, the bishop wrote Joffe a week after he left Amboy concerned about the possibility that Joffe would suffer “public ignominy.” The bishop reminded Joffe that he had “stressed the importance of anonymity and complete confidentiality.” The reason for Bishop O’Neill’s worry was that he had received some “letters of protest” from Amboy parishioners who were “familiar” with the name of Joffe’s “accuser.”

For the next decade, Joffe resided in Kentucky and Florida. He worked as a security guard for a warehouse, among other odd jobs. Several times he asked the diocese to allow him to minister again in another parish; every time, he was refused.

Bishop O’Neill explained in November 1993 that “the serious allegations against” Joffe made it “impossible for [him] to have an assignment in the Diocese” or elsewhere. And Bishop Thomas Doran explained again in September 1995 that it “is best for the Diocese that you not return and resume priestly ministry here.” Several times, the diocese suggested to Joffe that he might consider applying for laicization.

In March 2002, another survivor came forward to the diocese. He reported that Joffe sexually abused him in the early 1970s when he was a freshman at Newman Central Catholic High School in Sterling and Joffe was the school’s director of religious education. And then in March 2004, two additional survivors reported to the diocese that Joffe had sexually abused them. In both instances, the abuse occurred while Joffe was the pastor at Saint Mary in Woodstock; he abused one of the survivors in 1979 and the other in 1983.

It was only at this point that the diocese decided to alert the public. A press release was issued in June 2004 describing the four incidents of sexual abuse by Joffe that had been reported to the diocese over the past 11 years. The diocese noted that it did not have any additional information to “support or refute
the allegations.” Nevertheless, Bishop Doran determined the allegations should be made public “in the interests of openness and transparency.”

The press release wound up serving an extremely important purpose—it prompted five additional survivors to come forward to the diocese in July 2004 to report they had been sexually abused by Joffe. The abuse occurred from the mid-1960s through the mid-1980s at Saint Patrick in Dixon and Saint Mary in Woodstock. The vicar general reported to the bishop in August 2004 that the allegations by each of the nine survivors who had come forward by that point “can be considered accurate” and “have merit.” The vicar general reasoned that he had “found credible evidence to determine Joffe did engage in sexual
misconduct with at least nine minor males in at least three of his former assignments.” Joffe’s imputability” is “reasonably established,” the vicar general concluded.

Ordained: 1957
Diocesan: Rockford, IL
Illinois Assignments
• Saint Patrick, Amboy, IL
• Saint Flannen, Harmon, IL
• Saint Patrick, Maytown, IL
• Saint Mary, Walton, IL
• Saints Peter and Paul, Cary, IL
• Saint Joseph, Harvard, IL
• Saint Patrick, Hartland, IL
• Saint Mary, Woodstock, IL
• Saint Mary, Morrison, IL
• Saint Patrick, Dixon, IL
• Our Lady of Good Counsel, Aurora, IL
• Saint Peter, Rockford, IL
• Saint John the Baptist, Savanna, IL

Reported Survivors: 10

Date/Location of Reported Abuse
• 1966: Lee County, IL
• 1966 or 1967: Lee County, IL
• 1970s: McHenry County, IL
• Early 1970s: McHenry County, IL
• 1972: McHenry County, IL
• Mid-1970s: McHenry County, IL
• 1977-1983 or 1984: McHenry County, IL
• 1979: McHenry County, IL
• 1979: out of state
• 1983: McHenry County, IL
Diocese claim of first report: 1993
Placed on Catholic Church Public Lists
• 11/14/18: Diocese of Rockford, IL
• 1993: Removed from ministry
• 2008: Died


McHenry County References in Attorney General’s Report on Catholic Clergy Sex Abuse – Part 5 — 8 Comments

  1. You know, you keep promising all these Truth Bombs. Yet all your Truths seem to just Bomb. 💣

  2. When a felcher posts. Think of jive turkey JT. JT does love bombs, halitosis bombs.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.