Rev. Joseph N. Williams

Summary of Case: Williams left the priesthood in 1979 and became an attorney. He is known to have sexually abused a 12 year old boy for three years, beginning in 1984. He also raped an 8 year old boy in 1992, for which he was sentenced in 2008 to life in prison without parole.

: 1969


Start Stop Assignment Town/Accusations State Position Notes


Cleveland bishop was Clarence George Issenmann (1966-1974)

1974 St. Mary Magdalene Willowick OH



Parish had a school with 1,384-835 students.


Issenmann was succeeded by James Aloysius Hickey (1974-1980)

1976 St. Joseph's Lorain OH 1/2 Administrator  
1974 1976 Lorain Catholic High School Lorain OH Chaplain This was a coeducational school with 824-840 students.
1976 1980 On Leave/Sick and Absent on Leave


Sexually abused a 12 year old boy for three years, beginning in 1984. The abuse occurred in Summit County Ohio, New Jersey, and San Diego. (The Chronicle-Telegram December 31, 2008)

Raped an 8 year old boy in 1992 in a Warrensville Heights nursing home, where the boy was visiting with his family. (The Plain Dealer December 30, 2008)


Williams left the priesthood and became a lawyer.

In 2008 he was sentenced to life in prison without parole for the 1992 rape of an 8 year old boy. (The Plain Dealer December 30, 2008)

: Official Catholic Directory (New York: P.J. Kenedy and Sons, 1970-1980)

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 Williams' 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 Dec. 4, 2009

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