Fr. Bernard Bissonnette – Diocese of Norwich

| Aug 4, 2021 | Abuser Profiles, Catholic Church

Fr. Bernard Bissonnette

Diocese of Norwich

Ordained: 1958

Laicized: 2005

Died: 2009

Assigned as Follows:

  • 1958: Christ the King (Old Lyme, CT)
  • 1958-1959: St Michael (Pawcatuck, CT)
  • 1959-1962: All Hollows (Moosup, CT)
  • 1959-1962: St. Joseph (Sterling, CT)
  • 1962-1963: St Mary (Putnam, CT)
  • 1963-1965: Sick leave
  • 1965-1966: St. James (West Duluth, MN)
  • 1966-1968: St Anne’s (Santa Fe, NM)
  • 1968:           Via Coeli (Jemez Springs, NM)
  • 1968-1979: On duty outside the diocese
  • 1960s-1970s: St. Alice (Mountainair, NM)
  • 1960s-1970s: New Mexico Boys School (Springer, NM)
  • 1979-1981: St. Bernadette (Albuquerque, NM)
  • 1981-1982: On duty outside the diocese
  • 1982-1984: St. Eleanor (Ruidoso, NM)
  • 1982-1983: San Patricio (Picacho, NM)
  • 1983-1984: St. Jude Thaddeus (San Patricio, NM)
  • 1983-1984: St. Joseph (Picacho, NM)
  • 1984-1985: Cathedral of the Immaculate Heart (Las Cruces, NM)
  • 1985-1987: St. Jude (Alamogordo, NM)
  • 1987-1992: Our Lady of Perpetual Help (Truth or Consequences, NM)

Summary of Sexual Abuse Allegations against Fr. Bernard Bissonnette:

Fr. Bernard Bissonnette, also known as “Father Barney,” was ordained in the the Diocese of Norwich in 1958. According to media reports, a few months after his ordination, he became the subject of his first child sexual abuse allegation. He was removed from five assignments in the Diocese of Norwich, each time because of abuse allegations.

In 1963, Bishop Vincent j. Hynes sent Fr. Bissonnette to the Servants of the Paracletes in Jemez Spring, NM for treatment. Bishop Hynes would not allow Bissonnette back in the Diocese of Norwich; however, the diocese continued to support him financially. Fr. Bissonnette went on to serve as a priest in Michigan, Minnesota, and New Mexico and was accused of child sexual abuse almost everywhere he was assigned.

At least nine men have publicly accused Fr. Bernard Bissonnette of child sex crimes, and he is the subject of several lawsuits. In 1963 a young boy told his family that he had been molested and raped by Bissonnette repeatedly between 1962-1963 when Bissonnette was assigned to St. Mary in Putnam, CT. The family reported the abuse to the church, and Bissonnette was sent to New Mexico for treatment. This alleged victim died by suicide in 1991.

In 1998, a New Mexico man filed a lawsuit against the Diocese of Norwich for abuse he suffered between 1966-1968 after Bissonnette was assigned to St. Annes in Santa Fe, NM. In 2015 lawsuit, Bissonnette is accused of raping an altar boy, age 7-12, hundreds of times between 1968-1972 when he was assigned to St. Alice Church in Mountainair, NM.

In November 2019, the Diocese of Las Cruces publicly named Fr. Bissonnette on its list of “priests and religious credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors who have served within the current territorial boundaries of the Diocese of Las Cruces.” The list notes that the allegation of child sexual abuse in 1983 against Fr. Bissonnette was received in 1989.

Fr. Bissonnette’s name listed again in 2018 on the Diocese of Norwich’s list of “clergy with allegations of substance of sexual abuse of a minor.” The diocese did not provide any additional information regarding the allegation.

In March of 2019, The Archdiocese of Santa Fe named Bissonnette on its list of “priests, deacons, religious, and seminarians accused of abuse of children.” The details of the allegations, including the information about the age/gender of his alleged victim/victims, the nature of the alleged sexual abuse, and Bissonnette’s assignments at the time of the alleged abuse are unknown.

Fr. Bissonnette’s last known location was Belen, NM. He died in 2009

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Diocese of Norwich in Connecticut.  If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a priest in Connecticut, contact our office today. In July 2021, the Norwich Diocese filed for federal bankruptcy protection.  The Court will resolve all claims of sexual abuse in this process but strict filing deadlines will apply and no late claims will be considered, so contact us today. Our lawyers have decades of experience representing survivors of clergy sexual abuse in Connecticut and nationwide. We can help.

Contact us at 888-283-9922 or [email protected] to discuss your options today.