Father Joseph Rock
Diocese of Allentown
Assigned as follows:
- 1972: Sacred Heart of Jesus (Allentown, PA)
- 1972-1986: Catholic Scouting/Catholic Youth Organization (C.Y.O.)
- 1972-1975: Cathedral of St. Catherine of Siena (Allentown, PA)
- 1975-1976: St. Ignatius Loyola (Reading, PA)
- 1976-1977: Ss. Simon and Jude (Bethlehem, PA)
- 1977-1982: Our Lady Help of Christians (Allentown, PA)
- 1982-1986: St. Francis de Sales (Mount Carbon, PA)
- 1986: Absent on Sick Leave
- 1986-2001: Holy Family Manor
- 1999: Retired
Summary of Sexual Abuse Allegations against Fr. Joseph Rock:
Fr. Joseph Rock was ordained a priest in 1972, who served in multiple parishes in the Diocese of Allentown. According to media reports, in 1986, the Diocese received multiple reports that Father Joseph Rock had sexual contact with three different boys. One of the boys claimed that Rock fondled him in 1983 when he was 9 years old. The other two, brothers from his parish, claimed that Rock fondled both of them over their clothing in the early 1980s.
Rock was placed on “sick leave” and sent to the Servants of the Paraclete facility in New Mexico, a notorious treatment center for priests accused of sexual misconduct. According to the 2018 PA Grand Jury report, the SOP reported that Rock’s prognosis was a “bleak picture,” meaning that he was likely to reoffend if placed in ministry again. Another treatment professional wrote to the chancery in Allentown that Rock was “one of the worst cases he ever encountered.” Despite such clear warnings, Rock was allowed to return to ministry in the Diocese of Allentown, and he was assigned to a nursing home and priests’ retirement facility (Holy Family Manor).
In 1989, the Diocese of Allentown paid a local attorney a retainer fee to represent Rock in a matter not discussed by the grand jury in its August report.
In 1991 and 1992, Rock was reportedly the subject of even more allegations of sexual misconduct with boys. He admitted to some type of “roughhousing,” which led to him touching their genitals.
In 2000, the Diocese of Allentown received yet another allegation that Rock sexually abused boys in his care. In this report, the victim reported being grabbed from behind and pulled into Rock’s body while Rock ground his erection against the boy. He saw Rock do this to other boys as well. By the time the boy was 12 or 13, Rock was reaching into the boy’s pants to fondle him.
In 2000, the Diocese settled a civil lawsuit involving Rock for $305,000, according to the grand jury report.
In 2001, Rock retired as chaplain of the Holy Family Villa (nursing home) amidst an investigation by the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare that he had sexually abused two elderly male residents.
In 2003, another man reported to the Diocese of Allentown that he was sexually abused by Rock when he was in 7th or 8th grade. The grand jury did not disclose the location or the years of the abuse, however. But, more importantly, when confronted with the allegation, Rock told the Diocese of Allentown officials that the abuse “could have happened” because it was “in keeping with the way he acted with other victims.”
In 2004, Rock was named in five civil lawsuits arising from sexual abuse.
In 2007, still another man reported to the Diocese of Allentown that he was sexually abused from 6th through 8th grade by Rock (approx. 1979-1981), while Rock was assigned to Our Lady Help of Christians in Allentown. He described fondling, mutual oral copulation, and sodomy.
Rock was laicized in 2005, according to the Diocese of Allentown’s August 2018 list of credibly accused priests. He is believed to be residing in the Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, area.
In December 2019, Rock was named in a civil lawsuit filed against the Diocese of Allentown in New Jersey under a new law allowing previously-expired lawsuits to be filed during a “window period.” According to the lawsuit, Rock abused a 13 year old girl starting in 1974. The plaintiff alleged that Rock was a revered family friend by virtue of his status as a priest, and that he often took photos of the girl to use as blackmail. The tactic proved so effective that Rock continued to sexually abuse her well into adulthood, using the photos as leverage over her.
Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Diocese of Allentown. If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a priest in Pennsylvania, contact our office today. Although many years have passed, those abused by Catholic clergy in the Diocese of Allentown may have legal options against the Diocese of Allentown.