Assignment Record– Rev. Joseph J. Lieberth
Summary of Case: Lieberth admitted to molesting one victim, the 17 year-old son of a church deacon, during a trip to California in 1986. Lieberth referred to it as an "isolated incident" and Auxilliary Bishop Quinn persuaded the victim and family not to contact police. A second man came forward in 2002 alleging abuse on a trip in 1985. Lieberth was placed on Administrative Leave in 2002. In March 2015 the diocese announced that the bishop had imposed on Lieberth "a life of prayer and penance."
Cleveland Bishop was Clarence George Issenmann (1966-1974).
|1973||St. Martin of Tours||Cleveland (Maple Heights)||OH||
|Parish had a school with 408-285 students.|
|1971||1973||Dean of Cuyahoga SW Deanery||Lieberth is referred to as Monsignor beginning in 1971.|
James Aloysius Hickey replaced Issenmann as bishop (1974-1980).
|1978||St. Peter's||Lorain||OH||2/3, 2/4||Parish had a school with 481-447 students.|
|1976||1981||Pro-Life Office Coordinator|
|1977||1978||Diocesan Executive Interfaith and Ecumenical Committee||
Following Hickey as bishop was Anthony Michael Pilla (1980-2006).
|1988||Permanent Diaconate Program Director|
• Accused of attempting to rape a 17 year-old male parishioner during a trip in 1986. The accuser claims that Auxilliary Bishop Quinn persuaded the him not to take legal action. The accuser filed suit in 2003, after learning that another boy had been attacked by Lieberth in 1985.
Parish had a school with 385-263 students.
Lieberth admitted in 2002 in a note to his staff at that there was an "incident" with a 17 year-old boy years earlier. He told them the incident was "isolated," that he apologized to the boy and his family, received counseling, and was then reassigned.
|1988||1992||St. Mary's (Slovenian)||Cleveland||OH||2/2, 2/3, 3/3||Parish had a school with 172-140 students.|
|1992||2002||Holy Family||Stow||OH||3/4, 2/3, 1/1, 1/2, 1/3||
Parish had a school with 675-738 students, and a CCD program with 706-501 students.
Suspended from ministry in April 2002 due to past allegations of child sexual abuse.
Richard Gerard Lennon succeeded Pilla
|March 2015||Administrative Leave|
|March 2015||Life of Prayer and Penance||In March 2015 the diocese announced that Bishop Lennon had imposed on Lieberth a "life of prayer and penance."|
Sources: Official Catholic Directory (New York: P.J. Kenedy and Sons, 1969-2009)
• Cleveland Diocese Priests on Leave Pending Review, By Katie Byard, Carol Biliczky and Andrea Misko, Akron Beacon Journal [Ohio], April 9, 2002
• Diocese Suspends 9 More Priests, By James F. McCarty and David Briggs, Plain Dealer [Cleveland, Ohio], April 9, 2002
Holy Family Prays, Keeps Vigil
• Abuse Allegations about Beloved Priest Rock Parish, By Carol Biliczky, Akron Beacon Journal [Ohio], April 18, 2002
• A Cross to Bear, By Tom Breckenridge and David Briggs, Plain Dealer [Cleveland, Ohio], June 16, 2002
• Good Priest Hunting, By Sarah Fenske, Cleveland Scene [Ohio], January 15, 2003
Priests in a Parish: We use the following convention to show a priest's place among the clergy of a parish: 1/2 means that he is the first priest listed in the Official Catholic Directory (usually the pastor) and that there is a total of two priests at the parish. The shorthand 3/4 means that the priest is listed third on a four-priest roster. See our sample page from the Directory.
Note: The Official Catholic Directory aims to report the whereabouts of Catholic priests in the United States on January 1 of the Directory's publication year. Our working assumption is that a priest listed in the Directory for a given year was at the same assignment for part of the previous year as well. However, Kenedy and Sons will sometimes accept updates well into the year of publication. Diocesan clergy records are rarely available to correct this information. The Directory is also sometimes misleading or wrong. We have tried to create an accurate assignment record, given the source materials and their limitations. Assignment records are a work in progress and we are always improving the records that we post. Please email us with new information and corrections.
This assignment record collates Lieberth's career history as it is represented in the Official Catholic Directory with allegations as reported in the media. We make no representation regarding the truth of the allegation we report, and we remind our readers that the U.S. legal system presumes that a person accused of or charged with a crime is innocent until proven guilty. Similarly, individuals who may be defendants in civil actions are presumed not to be liable for such claims unless a plaintiff proves otherwise. Admissions of guilt or liability are not typically a part of civil or private settlements. For more information, see our posting policy.
This assignment record was last updated on March 26, 2015.