Father Joseph Fertal
Diocese of Scranton (Society of the Divine Word)
Suspended from ministry: 1995
Summary of Sexual Abuse Allegations against Father Joseph Fertal:
Father Joseph Fertal was ordained a priest of the Society of the Divine Word in 1959, who served in multiple parishes in the Diocese of Scranton. According to media reports, he was working in the Philippines in 1989 when he was suspected of child sexual abuse. He returned to his order’s seminary in Riverside, CA, and was then assigned to parishes.
In 1995, Father Fertal, was reportedly accused of molesting a 16-year-old boy in the Diocese of San Bernardino, California. The mother of the victim sued the Catholic Church, alleging her son was sexually molested by Fertal after she brought the boy to church for moral guidance. The lawsuit alleged that Father Joe Fertal of St. Edward Church molested the boy after his mother enrolled her son in Catechism classes. The suit was settled, and a criminal investigation was dropped for lack of evidence, according to online accounts.
According to media reports, in 2002, officials forced Fertal to move out of a Riverside retirement home, due to his history of inappropriate relationships with children, according to his order. Fertal was relocated to a St. Louis church treatment center for priests accused of sexual misconduct.
In 2018, he was added to the Diocese of Scranton List of clergy credibly accused of child sexual abuse.
According to a spokeswoman from the Society of the Divine Word, Fertal is living in Chicago, Illinois.
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