Msgr. John J. Corbett – Archdiocese of Baltimore

On Behalf of | May 9, 2023 | Firm News

Msgr. John J. Corbett

Archdiocese of Baltimore

John J. Corbett Horowitz Law

Ordained: 1909


Died: 1957

Assignment History:

  • 1909-1922: St. Brigid Church (Baltimore, MD) 
  • 1922-1923: St. Peter’s Church (Washington, DC) 
  • 1924-1943: St. Margaret Church (Washington, DC)
  • 1943-1957: St. Mary Star of the Sea (Baltimore, MD)
  • 1956: Elevated to Monsignor 

Summary of Abuse Allegations Against Monsignor John J. Corbett

Msgr. John J. Corbett was ordained a Catholic priest in 19xx and worked in the Archdiocese of Baltimore. In 2019, Msgr. Corbett was listed on the Archdiocese of Baltimore’s Credibly Accused of Sexual Abuse of Minors list. In April 2023, Maryland’s Attorney General released a report alleging 156 Catholic clergy members sexually abused at least 600 children over six decades. The report lists the names of the abusers, including Msgr. Corbett.

According to the AG’s report, In 1993, two individuals alleged that they had been abused by Msgr. John J. Corbett in the late 1940s or early 1950s. The first woman claims she was sexually abused by Corbett at St. Mary, Star of the Sea School in South Baltimore in 1949 and 1950 when she was in the third grade. Another girl was present at least one of the times he abused her. Corbett asked her and another girl to come into his office and stand beside him in his chair. He then put his hands down her pants and fondled her. She said that she met a woman as an adult who was also abused by Corbett as a child. The second victim reported being sexually abused by Corbett at St. Mary, Star of the Sea, in 1952 or 1953. 

In 2002, another woman reported that she was sexually abused in the rectory of St. Mary, Star of the Sea, by Corbett. She stated, “My mother used to go to the rectory to get Mass cards. I was with her in Father Corbett’s office. I remember that I was wearing a white dress; I was in first grade. Father was sitting behind his big desk, and he called me over to stand by him. Then, I was partially hidden from my mother’s view. With her right there in the same room, he put his fingers into my (under)pants and into me. I remember standing there stiff as a board, looking at my mother, while Father Corbett carried on a conversation with her.”

A second incident occurred along the same lines. She said she remembered “the feeling of dread she experienced when she knew her mother was taking her to the rectory. ‘I didn’t want to go, but I didn’t know what else to do.’” The third time he abused her was in the rectory’s second-floor TV room/study when she was 7 or 8 years old. The parish grade school nuns sent her and a classmate “to clean Father’s study.” The classmate left the study ahead of her, and Father Corbett called her back as she was leaving. He said, “You can’t go yet; you have to say goodbye to Peter.” The victim thought he was referring to St. Peter. However, when she returned to him, she “saw that the priest had exposed himself.” 

In August 2002, a fourth woman reported being sexually abused by Corbett in the rectory of St. Mary, Star of the Sea, in approximately 1946. She was called out of class by her teacher to go to the rectory and help Corbett clean off his desk. She and another girl went up to his second-floor office. He had a shawl on his lap over his erection. He said he had an umbrella under the shawl. He asked the girls if they had bathed the night before and if they had a bowel movement that day before putting his hand under her skirt and underpants to fondle her bottom. The victim told Corbett that her mother said no one was allowed to touch her there. He said he could because he was a priest, but the victim said she would tell her mother, and he stopped. He then put his hand into the underpants of the second girl. He told the first victim to turn her head, but she heard his labored breathing while he molested her friend. She told her mother, who went to the principal the next day. She believed that her mother also spoke to someone in authority in the Archdiocese. Her mother apologized to her on behalf of Corbett, but neither he nor anyone from the Archdiocese apologized to her. She also referenced another victim. She saw Corbett put his hand down her blouse. She said Corbett had a “long career abusing young girls.” She was very upset that the Archdiocese had no record of her mother’s report. 

In October 2002, a woman reported being sexually abused by Corbett in the rectory of St. Mary, Star of the Sea. When she was in the 1st grade, he put his finger inside her vagina. When she was 7 or 8 years old, he exposed his penis to her. 

On November 7, 2002, a woman reported Corbett sexually abused her in the 1940s. She attended Holy Cross School and “routinely walked her girlfriend home and, on the way, passed by St. Mary Star of the Sea Church and Rectory. [Corbett]… would often be sitting on the bench in front of the church and would exchange pleasantries with them.” He would ‘write backward’ to impress the girls. She would walk her friend home and then walk back past Corbett. On one such trip, Corbett was still sitting on the bench and asked her if she would like a holy card. “Receiving a holy card was a big deal back then.” She said yes, and Corbett invited her into the rectory. Inside he put his hand up her dress and rested it on her thigh. She was confused and left immediately. It did not happen again. 

In 2010, a woman reported being sexually abused by Corbett in 1946 when she was six years old at St. Mary’s Star of the Sea. She said he “molested all the little girls at the school.” She knew other victims, including her cousin. 

In 2018, a woman reported that she was sexually abused by Corbett in the 1950s when she was in 4th through 7th grade at St. Mary’s, Star of the Sea. She didn’t remember how often the abuse occurred, but it happened in his bedroom. He took her hand and put it on his body, including his genitals. In 2020, a woman reported that a classmate told her that Corbett “put his hands under the classmate’s skirt and put his hands under the classmate’s underpants.” The notes of discussion of John Corbett by the Independent Child Abuse Review Board are heavily redacted. The Archdiocese made the mandated reports to authorities. Corbett died in 1957. 

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Archdiocese of Baltimore in Maryland. If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a priest in Maryland, contact our office today. Our lawyers have decades of experience representing survivors of clergy sexual abuse nationwide. We can help. Contact us at 888-283-9922 or [email protected] to discuss your options today.