Attended All Hallows Seminary in Dublin, Ireland. Ordained 13 June 1959 for Archdiocese of St. John’s Newfoundland. 15 December 1988 GUILTY to five charges of gross indecency and two of sexual assault on boys between the ages of 10 and 13. Five year sentence.
Of interest is the fact that in September 1989 Father Anthony Bennett pled guilty to one charge of sex abuse of a minor male which transpired at Corrigan’s home in Pouch Cove, Newfoundland. (In December 1989 Father Edward Sutton was acquitted on charges related to allegations that he molested a boy at Corrigan’s home in Pouch Cove.)
Archbishops of St. John’s during Corrigan’s tenure: Patrick James Skinner Jan. 1951-April 1979; Alphonsus Penney April 1979-Feb. 1991; James MacDonald Feb 1991-Dec. 200; Brendan O’Brien Dec. 2000 – June 2007; Martin Currie October 2007-
The following information is drawn from Canadian Catholic Directories (CCCD) of the corresponding date, media (M), Unholy Orders (Michael Harris, 1990) (UO) and the Winter Commission Report (1990) ( (WCR)
2012, 2011, 2010: address for St. John’s Mercy Home, St. John’s, Newfoundland (CCCD)
2002, 1998, 1994, 1991: address c/o the Diocesan Centre (CCCD)
In “Sins of the Father” (23 November ’97) Ottawa Sun reporter Jacki Leroux reported that “Since at least 1991, the church directories list as his [Corrigan’s] address the diocese, but officials there said he hasn’t been there for some time and they have no idea where he is today.”
1988: GUILTY plea.(WCR gives the date as 1989. That is a typo – the date was 1988)
– the boys said that Corrigan would invite them over for cookies and beer “occasionally showing them homosexual videos and magazines. ” That then gave way to oral and anal sex with the Corrigan two or three times a week for the next two years. (UO)
Judge Seabright said in sentencing:
In his own life the Defendant began to drink heavily and the evidence shows that he was drinking at least a 40 oz bottle of liquor daily …The evidence presented by the defence on the sentencing hearing is to the effect that Father Corrigan is a homosexual and had a real problem with liquor.
…He held a postion of trust in that parent trusted him and the children would certainly not have been questioned [if] they were leaving their own homes to go to the priest’s house. In the case of the boys, they were provided with a hang out, free food, and the comforts of this hang out which was free from question. The only requirement in addition to their sexual favours was their silence. (WCR)
Seabright us also quoted as saying:
“Gross indecency and sexual assault are probably the worst crimes against children that can be committed. They take the innocent and cause damage that … may never be fully discovered …. When we add that these crimes were committed by a person in authority, then the defendant offends not only against the child but against society as a whole. (UO)
1986- arrest: St. John Bosco Roman Catholic Church, Shea Heights, Newfoundland (WCR)
some of the charges of sexual abuse relate to when he was serving in Shea Heights (WCR)
Jue 1977- July 1986: St. Agnes RC Church, Pouch Cove, Newfoundland (WCR)
20 January 1986: in a letter to Archbishop regarding parish appointment Corrigan told the Archbishop that he was quite happy where he was, but understood that it could not be a permanent appointment. He further told the Archbishop: “you are aware that I am an alcoholic.” Corrigan added that he had tinnitus, an ailment which caused him hearing loss and that he felt that his alcohol and hearing difficulties would be problematic if he were assigned to an isolated parish. (WCR)
Convictions relate to a number of allegations of sexual abuse of young boys in Pouch Cove
1085-86: Pastor, St. Agnes RC Church, Pouch Cove, Newfoundland (CCCD)
1966-1976: initially administrator at Ferryland and then Pastor at Ferryland-Cape Broyle (WCR)
served on local school board (WCR)
1971-72, 1973-74: Pastor, Holy Trinity in Ferryland with missions at Aquaforte and Calvert (CCCD)
1967, 1968-69: address St.Michael’s Presbytry, Bell Island, Conception Bay (Pastor, Father Eric R. Lawlor) (CCCD)
(Father Lorne Whalen was born October 1956 in Bell Island.)
December 21, 1988 17.32 EST
21 December 1988
By Stephen Ward
ST. JOHN’S, Nfld. (CP)
A Roman Catholic priest convicted of sexual offences against seven altar boys should be rehabilitated ‑‑ not sent to prison, a forensic psychiatrist said Wednesday.
Nizar Ladha told a sentencing hearing in provincial court that Rev. John Corrigan, 57, should receive therapy in the community.
“Therapy must begin as soon as possible in an environment more conducive than a jail cell . . . long‑term incarceration is counter‑productive,” he said. “What we need in a case like this is a legal leash on the person.”
Corrigan, who will remain in custody until sentencing Jan. 10, pleaded guilty a week ago to two counts of sexual assault, one count of attempted sexual assault and four counts of gross indecency.
Eight other sex‑related charges were dropped.
The attempted sexual assault happened early in 1988 when a 15‑ year‑old resisted Corrigan’s advances at his parish residence in St. John’s.
The other offences, occurring between 1977 and 1986, involve six youths who were altar boys for Corrigan when he was a parish priest in Pouch Cove, about 25 kilometres north of St. John’s.
Corrigan’s plea came only two months after Rev. James Hickey, also of St. John’s, was sentenced to five years in prison for sexually assaulting altar boys over 18 years.
Hickey, 55, also a Roman Catholic priest, pleaded guilty to 20 offences and is now serving his sentence at Dorchester penitentiary in New Brunswick.
Crown prosecutor Cathy Knox asked Judge Gordon Seabright to give Corrigan a “significant jail term” similar to Hickey’s to deter like‑minded people from similar acts.
“The courts have said that in cases of sex offenders the primary concern is the protection of the children,” she said.
Ladha said Corrigan, who is a homosexual, did not prey on children but entered into sexual relations with the boys in an “opportunistic fashion.”
Corrigan’s behavior was partially a result of stress, heavy drinking and his penchant to be seclusive.
“I think he realized from the start that these actions were wrong,” said Ladha. “He has experienced guilt and remorse, and concern for the victims, his own family and the church.”
Knox challenged Ladha’s testimony, saying statements by victims show that Corrigan committed serious sexual offences deliberately and consciously.
“This kindly compassionate man in 1977 began engaging young boys in acts of sexual deviance that by any description can only be described as reprehensible, revolting and frightening,” said Knox.
The statements described how Corrigan lured the boys one by one to his house to play darts, watch television and help him with church duties.
Corrigan would serve the boys alcohol and, on different occasions, grab individuals by the groin, chase them around the house and sometimes masturbate them.
One boy said Corrigan performed oral sex on him between 20 and 30 times over a two‑year period. Yet another youth stated that he regularly had anal and oral sex with Corrigan.
Defence counsel Frank O’Dea said the Corrigan case bears no similarity to Hickey’s because the latter molested more boys over a longer time.
As well, Hickey ‑‑ unlike Corrigan ‑‑ did not immediately co‑operate with police after being charged. Hickey pleaded guilty only after dragging his victims through a difficult preliminary inquiry.
“In Pouch Cove, Corrigan acted out of character,” said O’Dea. “He is prepared to accept whatever the court wishes to give him.
“These serious crimes will stigmatize him for the rest of his life.”
O’Dea called for a two‑year prison term and three years’ probation.
He said Catholic leaders support a rehabilitation program for Corrigan. They would also support sending him to an institution for troubled priests on the mainland.