Molesting before ordination

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I have just added Father William Russell to the list of Accused, with a link to a page with further info.

Russell, a priest with the Diocese of Peterborough, Ontario, was convicted in 2002 for sexually abusing a teenage boy between 1974 and 1976.

The details surrounding all of these clerical molesters are disturbing.  Scant as they are, those regarding Russell are no less so than others. 

There is are several things about the Father Russell case which are of note.

(1)  Russell was molesting before his ordination and while he was a pastoral assistant and Extraordinary Minster of the Eucharist at St. Paul’s RC Church in Lakefield, Ontario.  He was ordained in 1979.  He was convicted for abusing a young lad between 1974 and 1976,

(2)  Some of the abuse transpired after Mass in the rectoryof St. Paul’s Roman Catholic Church in Lakefied, Ontario.

(3)  Russell was in charge of altar servers at St. Paul’s

(3) Russell relocated to the Archdiocese of Toronto in the late 80s or early 90s.  According to media reports, he worked for “the Catholic school board” in Toronto. According to media reports he was also a parish priest in Toronto.

(4)  Russell either lived in Basilian quarters in Toronto or was working with or for the Basilians

(5)   Russell  must have been working for the Ontario Institute for Studies in of Education (OISE) for at least some of his Toronto years.  I found this one article online which makes reference to Father Russell.  There is no Father Russell in the directories around that time barring Father William Russell.


(1)  Did the priest at St. Paul’s in Lakefield have an inkling as to why Russell was dragging this young lad into the rectory after Sunday Masses? 

I believe the priest would have been Father Leo Leahy.  Did anyone talk to him about what William Russell was up to in St. Paul’s rectory after Mass? 

(2)  How in good conscience could Russell, a molester, have served as a eucharistic minister?  (Perhaps conscience is the operative word here?)

(3)  Who or what motivated Russell to become a Roman Catholic priest?

(4) Why and when did Father Russell leave the Diocese of Peterborough?

(3)  What involvement did Russell have with the Basilians in Toronto?  Was he teaching at any Basilian facilities?  Was he living in Basilian accommodations? Was he assisting at any Basilian churches in Toronto?

(4)  How long did Russell work with OISE?  And, what was his position on staff?

If anyone can shed any light on any of this please email me at or post a comment on the William Russell page.

Enough for now


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