Fr. John B. Hesch – Diocese of Richmond

Father John B. Hesch

Diocese of Richmond

Ordained: 1982

Died: 1994

Assigned as follows:

  • Saint Augustine (Richmond, VA)
  • Saint Nicholas (Virginia Beach, VA)
  • Sacred Heart (Big Stone Gap, VA)

Summary of Abuse Allegations against Father John B. Hesch:

Father John B. Hesch was an appointed member of the Tribunal of the Catholic Diocese of Richmond. According to media reports, in April 1994, a 21-year-old parishioner at St. Augustine Catholic Church killed himself at his parents’ home. His parents requested from the church to keep the priest away from the funeral, prompting the Bishop of Richmond to start an inquiry.    

The allegations brought to light old complaints made against Father Hesch in 1985 at Sacred Heart-St. Augustine School, where he taught sex education. Two former teachers said they warned the Diocese of Richmond in 1985 that parents and students were complaining about his physical handling of the children. In one case, they said he asked a young boy to sit on his lap while he had an erection. He was transferred to St. Nicholas Church where he was assigned as an associate pastor. 

On June 5, 1994, Father Hesch killed himself with a gunshot to his head several hours after being confronted by Bishop Sullivan about the alleged abuse. He denied the allegations in their conversation and his suicide note. He was 37, and had just received a doctorate in canon law from Catholic University in Washington. 

“They told us they had confronted him back then,” recalled one teacher, who said she reported the priest in 1985. “They told us they were going to send him to counseling. They told me it was going to be taken care of and it wasn’t. Everybody was hurt by this.”

After Father Hesch’s death, Bishop Sullivan sent a letter to all priests in the diocese asking them “to determine if there are any parishioners who need counseling in light of these developments.” He also requested that they keep the letter confidential. When a former city official told Bishop Sullivan that he knew the names of two more victims of Father Hesch’s abuse, he was allegedly told to stay out of it

In February 2019, his name appeared publicly on the Diocese of Richmond’s list of clergy credibly accused of sex abuse of minors.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Diocese of Richmond.  If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a priest in Richmond, contact our office today. Although many years have passed, those abused by Catholic clergy in the Diocese of Richmond 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.