Father Joseph Lessard
Diocese of Phoenix
Assigned as follows:
- >1981-1982 Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church, (Tempe, AZ (PHX)
- >1983-1985 St. Jerome, Phoenix, AZ (PHX)
- >1986-1987 Absent on Sick Leave
- >1988-1990 On Duty Outside the Diocese
- >1990-1993 Mercy Health Corporation, Aurora, IL (RCK)
- >1993-1995 On Duty Outside the Diocese, Holy Angels, Aurora, IL (RCK)
- >1996 Holy Angels Church, Aurora, IL (RCK)
- >1996-2001 On Duty Outside the Diocese (PHX)
- >1996-1998 Mercy Health Corporation, Aurora, IL (RCK)
- >1997-2001 St. Mary’s Church, Aurora, IL (RCK)
- >1998-1999 On Duty Outside the Diocese (RCK)
- >1999-2001 Provena Mercy Center, Aurora, IL (RCK)
Summary of Abuse Allegations against Father Joseph Lessard:
According to media reports, in 1985, Father Joseph Lessard was arrested for sexually abusing a 14-year-old boy. Father Lessard performed oral sex on the boy while trying out the boy’s waterbed at the family’s home. The boy’s parents were resting in an adjoining bedroom.
The boy screamed to his parents that Father Lessard was “doing homosexual things” to him. The priest insisted the boy “must have been dreaming.” Later, in 1986, Father Lessard admitted to the abuse and called it a “spur of the moment thing” that he couldn’t explain. He was suspended from parish work until he completed psychological treatment.
Bishop O’Brien wrote to the judge requesting leniency because Father Lessard was remorseful. Two felony charges were reduced to misdemeanors in a plea bargain. He was sentenced to three years probation and $100 fine.
The victim said he was always taught to believe that priests were God’s gift to this world. He doesn’t believe that any more. He said, “It affects everything you do the rest of you life.”
Father Lessard continued to work as a priest, including time as a hospital chaplain and several other locations in Illinois, within the Diocese of Rockford.
In February 2001, he was removed from ministry by the hospital and the Diocese of Rockford. The following year in 2002, he was permanently removed from ministry by the Diocese of Phoenix.
In 2003, Father Lessard was named in a child sexual abuse lawsuit which was settled in 2006, for $50,000.
According to the Diocese of Phoenix, Father Lessard moved to Thailand in 2006, but his activities are unknown. A pre-sentencing report identified Father Lessard as a “regressive pedophile” and warned “the defendant poses a severe threat to the safety and welfare of children within the community and will maintain a propensity to reoffend.”
In November 2018, Father Lessard was included in the Diocese of Rockford’s list of “Religious Order Priests/Brothers or Priests of another diocese, who worked within the geographical boundaries of the Rockford Diocese or were assigned in this Diocese, against whom a substantiated allegation of sexual abuse of a minor has been reported.”
Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Diocese of Phoenix. If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a priest in Phoenix, contact our office today. Although many years have passed, those abused by Catholic clergy in the Diocese of Phoenix now have legal options to recover damages due to a compensation fund created for victims. Call us at 888-283-9922 or send an email to [email protected] to discuss your options today.