Fr John T. Sullivan – Diocese of Phoenix

Father John T. Sullivan

Diocese of Phoenix

Ordained: 1942

Removed: 1957

Died: 1999

Assigned as follows:

  • 1942-1943      St. John the Baptist (Westville, NH)  
  • 1943-1944      St. Mary’s (Dover, NH) 
  • 1944-1945      St. Thomas Aquinas (Derry, NH)  
  • 1945-1946      St. Patrick’s (Nashua, NH)  
  • 1946-1949      St. Mary’s (Claremont, NH)  
  • 1949-1952      St. Kieran (Berlin, NH)   
  • 1952-1956      Holy Angels (Westville, NH) 
  • 1956-1958      Absent on Leave  
  • 1958-1959      Holy Spirit (Grand Rapids, MI) 
  • 1959-1960      St. Patrick’s (Grand Haven, MI) 
  • 1960-1963      Absent on Sick Leave (Winslow, AZ)   
  • 1960-1961      St. Joseph’s (Winslow, AZ)  
  • 1960-1962      Madre de Dios (Winslow, AZ) 
  • 1962-1964      St. Francis (Seligman, AZ) 
  • 1964-1965      St. Cecilia’s (Clarkdale, AZ)  
  • 1965-1968      St. Mary’s (Kingman, AZ)  
  • 1968-1970      St. Francis (Seligman, AZ)  
  • 1970-1974      Our Lady of the Lake (Havasu City, AZ) 
  • 1974-1980      St. Margaret Mary (Bullhead City, AZ) 

Summary of Abuse Allegations against Father John T. Sullivan :

Father John T. Sullivan was ordained by the Diocese of Manchester, New Hampshire, and was later incardinated into the Diocese of Gallup in 1965. According to media reports, he sexually abused young girls during assignments in New Hampshire, Michigan, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona over a period of 35 years. His privileges were removed multiple times. 

In at least one instance, he arranged an illegal abortion for a teenager he had impregnated. In another case, in 1949, he fathered a child and provided support to the mother until she later married. He was suspended in 1952 after making “improper advances toward young women,” and was also reported to have stalked a nursing student. 

In 1956, Father Sullivan was found to be responsible for another pregnancy. In 1957, he was removed from active ministry and sent to the Servants of the Paraclete’s Via Coeli in Jemez Springs, New Mexico, an institution known for treating priests accused of child sexual abuse. Despite his history, he was accepted by other dioceses. 

In 1958, he was welcomed by the Diocese of Grand Rapids that was aware of his past. He quickly worked his way into a family through Holy Spirit church. He sexually abused three sisters ages 7-12.

He pulls out this book about sex,” one sister said. “He was going to teach me all this stuff, and that’s the first time.

“‘You lay down here, this is what I’m going to do, and this is a deep, dark secret. You can’t tell anybody, because if you do, something bad will happen to your parents, something bad will happen to me,’ so it would be all my fault.”

The youngest sister recalled, “Sullivan told me he needed to check and see if I was growing up properly.”

“This was the first time Sullivan attacked me. It was fast and painful.”

She recalled running to the door after a teacher called her name.

“I turned to look at him and I was terrified by his clenched fists and red face. He looked like the devil to me.”

During one rape, the 7-year old suffered ruptured discs in her neck.

The Diocese of Grand Rapids paid the three sisters $500,000 in 1994 for the sexual abuse by Father Sullivan.

In 1981, Father Sullivan retired after pleading no contest to attempted sexual abuse of a minor girl at St. Margaret Mary in Bullhead City, Arizona. Two years later in 1983, he was stripped of his priestly faculties after more allegations of child sexual abuse surfaced. He retired in 1984.

By 2002, six women had come forward alleging that they had been sexually abused as children by Father Sullivan in Grand Rapids, Michigan. In February 2003, the Diocese of Manchester released his personnel file. 

He died in 1999 in San Diego, California never having faced a criminal charge. 

Father Sullivan was named in a new lawsuit filed in Arizona in June 2013 against the Diocese of Gallup in New Mexico. 

Father Sullivan’s name appeared on the Diocese of Phoenix’s List of “… priests and deacons who have been laicized and/or removed from ministry due to sexual misconduct with a minor” published in February 2018.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Diocese of Phoenix.  If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a priest in Phoenix, contact our office today. Although many years have passed, those abused by Catholic clergy in the Diocese of Phoenix now have legal options to recover damages due to a compensation fund created for victims.  Call us at (888) 283-9922 or send an email to adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com to discuss your options today.