Russell: Father William Russell

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William J Russell

Priest, Diocese of Peterborough, Ontario.  Ordained 1979.  GUILTY 2002 for sex abuse of teenage boy in the 70s (one charge of gross indecency withdrawn)  Abuse transpired over two-year-period (1974-76) before Russell’s ordination to the priesthood.  Some of the abuse occurred at the rectory in Lakefield, just North of Peterborough. According to media, Russell worked for the Catholic School Board in Toronto.  Seems to have lived in Basilian quarters during his time in Toronto, and at least one year was working with the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE). Date he moved to Toronto unknown, but the 1988 CCCD gives a Toronto address. Brother of convicted child molester and teacher Frank Russell


Bishops of Peterborough Diocese from time of Father Russell’s ordination: James Leonard Doyle  (24 May 1976 – 28 December 2002 ); Nicola de Angelis, C.F.I.C. (28 December 2002  – )

Archbishops of Toronto from time of Russell’s arrival:  Gerald Emmett Carter  (29 April 1978 -17 March 1990); Aloysius Matthew Ambrozic (17 March 1990 – 16 December 2006); Thomas Christopher Collins (16 December 2006 – )

Auxiliary Bishops of Toronto in the Archdiocese:  Aloysius Matthew Ambrozic ( 26 March 1976 to appointment as  Coadjutor Archbishop: 22 May 1986 and then as Archbishop 1990); Michael Pearse Lacey (03 May 1979 -to 31 May 1993);  Robert Bell Clune  (03 May 1979 – 27 December 1995);  Leonard James Wall  (03 May 1979 – 25 Feb 1992); John Stephen Knight (27 April 1992 – 9 April; 2000);Terrence Thomas Prendergast, S.J.  (22 February 1995 -o 30 June 1998);  Nicola de Angelis, C.F.I.C. (27 April 1992 to 28 December 2002); Anthony Giroux Meagher  ( 30 Apr 1997 – 27 April 2002) ; Richard John Grecco (27 April 2002 -o 11 July 2009) ; Peter Joseph Hundt (11 February 2006 to 1 March 2011)


Undated: Convicted teacher given funds for trip

June 1980: Ontario religious educators meet in Ottawa 1980


The following information is drawn from Canadian Catholic Directories of that date the 1980 Ontario Catholic Directory (OCD), Ontario Catholic Yearbook (OCY) and Media (M)

2015, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004:  apartment on Maitland Place, Toronto, Ontario (CCCD)

2003, 2002:  207-4 Sherbourne St. North, Toronto, Ontario  416-515-1035 (CCCD)

2002:  GUILTY.  18 months house arrest (M)

2000, 1999, 1998, 1995:  95 St. Joseph St., Toronto. Phone number: 416-925-4368  (This is a Basilian address.  St. Basil. Congregation of St. Basil, Cardinal Flahiff Basilian Center and Faculty of Theology for St. Michael’s College) (CCCD)

1998: 95 St. Joseph St., Toronto, Ontario 416-925-4368 (address for Congregation of St. Basil, Cardinal Flahiff Basilian Center and Faculty of Theology for St. Michael’s College) (CCCD)

1997:  Is this him?  Part of the religious education team with OISE (Ontario Institute for Studies in Education?  Actually Father William Russell is the one and only Father Russell in the 1997 & 1998 CCCDs, so it must be him. (CCCD)

1996: 435 Palmerston Blvd., Toronto, Ontario  ( now Basilian Fathers Curial House.  Is that what it was in ’96?)  Father Russell’s phone number listed as: 416-925-4368 (CCCD)

1995:  95 St. Joseph St., Toronto, Ontario 416-925-4368 (address for Cardinal Flahiff Basilian Center and Faculty of Theology for St. Michael’s College) (CCCD)

1994, 1993, 1992, 1991:  435 Palmerston Blvd., Toronto, Ontario    416-516-1244 (CCCD)

1988:  95 St. Joseph St., Toronto, Ontario (CCCD)

1985-86: Pastor, St. John the Baptist RC Church, Peterborough, Ontario (CCCD)

diocesan contact for “Priestly Life”  (CCCD)

diocesan contact for CWL (CCCD)

University Apostolate (CCCD)

1983-84:  St. John the Baptist RC Church, Peterborough, Ontario (CCCD)

1983-84:  diocesan contact for “Priestly Life”  (OCY)

1983:  address for Our Lady of Mercy RC Church, Port Hope, Ontario (CCCD)

1982-83:  address for Our Lady of Mercy RC Church, Port Hope, Ontario (CCCD)

1982-83:  diocesan contact for “Priestly Life”  (OCY)

Fall 1982: established “St. Peter’s Alumni and Friends” at St. Peter’s School

1980: at St. Paul’s in Lakefield with Father L.M. Leahy (OCD)


October 1974-December 1976:  paying a boy for sex acts.  Russell was molesting the boy at his, Russell’s, home, and at St. Paul’s rectory in Lakefield, Ontario.  (Pastor at St. Paul’s Father Leo M. Leahy?)


Peterborough priest sentenced to house arrest for sexually assaulting boy

Peterborough Examiner

26 February 2002

Canadian Press

PETERBOROUGH, Ont. (CP) – A local Roman Catholic priest has received a 15-month stay-at-home jail sentence after being found guilty of indecently assaulting an adolescent boy for a two-year period in the 1970s.

Rev. William Russell, 55, pleaded guilty two months ago to indecently assaulting the boy between Oct. 1, 1974, and Dec. 31, 1976. A charge of gross indecency was withdrawn.

The incidents occurred prior to Russell’s ordination and involved repeatedly engaging in oral sex with the boy.

Court heard how Russell sexually assaulted the boy after mass on Sundays, sometimes at Russell’s home in Peterborough and sometimes at a parish priest’s apartment in Lakefield, just north of Peterborough.

A court order prohibits the publication of any evidence that may identify the victim.

Russell eventually became a parish priest in Toronto, where he worked for the Catholic school board.


Ont. priest pleads guilty to fellatio with boy after Sunday mass 25-years ago

Canadian Press

10 December 2001

PETERBOROUGH, Ont. (CP) – For two years before he was ordained as a Roman Catholic priest, Father William Russell engaged in fellatio with an adolescent boy, Superior Court of Justice heard Monday.

Russell, now 55, pleaded guilty to indecently assaulting a male for paying the boy for fellatio after mass on Sundays during the mid-1970s.

The incidents took place at Russell’s home and at a parish priest’s apartment that adjoined the rectory of St. Paul’s Church in Lakefield, Ont.

“In the aftermath of sexual episodes, Father Russell would give the boy $10 or $20,” Crown attorney Jim Hughes told court.

At the time, Hughes told court, Russell was a pastoral assistant and an extraordinary minister of the Eucharist, who dealt with altar servers and the Catholic Women’s League at the church.

He said on occasion Russell and the boy, who went to Sunday service on his own, would go to breakfast together after mass, and then to Russell’s house or elsewhere.

“The friendship developed to a point where Father Russell would engage in fellatio on a sporadic basis,” Hughes said.

Hughes said the boy had no sexual experience before meeting Russell.

A court order prohibits publication of any evidence that may identify the victim.

Court heard that after being a pastoral assistant for five years, Russell went to a seminary and was subsequently ordained a priest at St. Paul’s.

Eventually, he became a parish priest in Toronto, where he worked with the Catholic school board, court heard.

Russell is expected to return to court on Feb. 22 for sentencing.

6 Responses to Russell: Father William Russell

  1. Sylvia says:

    More dates and locations added. We now know that Father Russell was out of the Peterborough Diocese and in Toronto by at least 1988.

  2. Chris says:

    I was molested by Frank Russell in the early 80’s at the age of 11 and 12 but never complained of it.

    Around 1990 I was very pleased to hear the handful of boys in my grade and several more in the next grade had come forward to have him charged. By the time I heard of the proceedings, I decided not to go forward ot have him charged because there were so many others who went on my behalf. I think he got 40 months (10 months per conviction = 4 convictions.) I was never approached by police, and never contacted them either.

    I believe only 2 of us never went through with charges against him, and I was happy to leave it alone, as Frank was literally destroyed in every aspect of his life. Don’t get me wrong, I think he probably deserved to be at least castrated, and I don’t go wishing to destroy the lives of others, but he was obviously completely ruined by this.

    Sadly, he was a great teacher – one of the best I ever had.

    Fortunately, his actions never ‘got to me’ in a negative sense as I was too young to understand what was happening, and I was never forced to touch him (therefore I never touched him once), nor did he physically touch my penis. He only massaged the area around my genitals without touching them, while doing something else with his other hand (obviously masturbating) – always outside the principals office on the black cot with the lights out in the nurses room. He probalby did this about 4 – 8 times over a period of 2 years.

    I saw Frank in 1989 before any of the charges were brought forward when he walked through my retail store with his wife (or a lady of his age) in Portage Place Shopping Mall. I said hello, and was quite surpirsed to see him turn grey as he nervously responded with a” hi there, we have to go, we’re late”. I instantly knew he felt guilty of what happened – or at least saw me as a potential threat – as the lawsuits may have already been in the works.

    A year or so later he was all over the papers charged by several classmates.

    Feel free to delete these comments, as I consider it almost therapy in a sense to write them down and get them out of my system. The man was ruined, and sadly this will always continue until we one day find and remove the pedophile ‘gene’ and all other undesired human traits when and ‘if’ couples decide to play ‘god’ during the fertalization period.

    • Sylvia says:

      Thanks for sharing this Chris. I am sorry that you too were molested by Frank Russell, who is, for those who don’t know, the brother of Father William Russell.

      I won’t delete your comments. They will, I am sure, help someone else. They are also your voice speaking out publicly, albeit anonymously, for the first time. That’s a big step Chris.

      I don’t know if you realize that there is actually a page on Sylvia’s Site for Frank Russell. You can access it by clicking here or manually by clicking on the “Of Interest” tab on the horizontal menu under the picture at the top of the page, and then click on “Non-Clerical Catholic.” There is not an awful lot of information there, but there is this undated article about OECTA funding a trip for him.

      Were you aware that one of the five victims who had charges laid against Frank Russell was a relative of his?

      To my knowledge he has not taught since his conviction – I think he probably had his teachers license revoked – I see that as a good and, while I don’t know him, do not feel the least bit sorry for him. I do however hope and pray that he has changed and that he truly regrets the damage he has done to every child whom he selfishly used and abused to gratify his own perverted lust.

      You sent another comment giving me your actual email address should I wish to contact you. Thank you for that. I will be in touch.

  3. marie says:

    Frank Russell taught me in both Grade 4 and Grade 6 at St Peter’s school in Peterborough in 1971/72. So saddened to hear about his crimes and conviction. What a waste. The man who taught us during those impressionable years was gifted, charming, and a brilliant teacher.
    Looking back no indication of anything untowards but I’m sure he was very careful (unless not yet caving in to his predilection for young boys). He said I reminded him of the little match girl from the story- a comment that stuck with me all these years.
    May he somehow atone for the horrific anguish he has caused- that the man I knew would harm a child is really hard to process.

  4. Chris says:

    A 4 year belated Thanks Sylvia, I do indeed, I heard it was his son whom I won’t name out of respect for his privacy.

    When you mentioned there were 5 charges laid (4 of which he was convicted for) – it matches the info I received.
    A shocker is I was told 17+ other boys came forward, but only 5 of which the crown had enough evidence to proceed with charges.

    I do recall reading another post here 4 years ago by another boy, who I won’t name (perhaps he requested his post be deleted) who was 2 years younger than me. Its sad how 35+ years can pass when you read a comment by someone you remember from elementary school expressing similar abuse.

    Thank you so much for your great service through this website.

  5. Chris says:

    An interesting Fact, I do recall being on the playground in the late 70’s when Father Bill Russell would visit our school. Other ‘older’ boys mentioned (excuse the language) he was a ‘faggot’ – which looking back was perhaps their way of expressing he went after boys. At that age, it was obvious they had no idea of the term pedophile.
    Sadly, both Bill and Frank were incredibly warm friendly men. Wolves in sheep’s clothing.

    The irony, is Bill Russell was a physical clone of Frank Russell with exception to his red hair. I have no idea if they were twins, although the resemblance was nearly identical.

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