Msgr. Joseph Hammond – Diocese of Scranton

Monsignor Joseph Hammond – Diocese of Scranton

Ordained:    1931

Elevated to Monsignor: 1968

Died:        1985

Assigned as follows:

  • 1931-1932         St. Mary (Mt. Pocono, PA)
  • 1932-1935        St. Theresa (Wilkes-Barre, PA)
  • 1935-1936        Asst. Director, Catholic Charities
  • 1936-1937        St. Michael Industrial School (Tobyhanna)
  • 1937-1938        Director, Diocesan Rural Life
  • 1938-1943        Director, Catholic Hospitals
  • 1943            In residence, St. Mary’s Convent
  • 1943-1946        Director, Catholic Charities
  • 1946-1947        Blessed Sacrament (Miners Mills, PA)
  • 1947-1950        St. Charles Borromeo (Sugar Notch, PA)
  • 1950-1970        St. Leo (Ashley, PA)
  • 1970-1985        Pastor Emeritus, St. Leo (Ashley, PA)

Summary of Abuse Allegations against Msgr. Joseph Hammond:

According to the grand jury report, there is no record of sexual misconduct in the personnel file of Monsignor Joseph Hammond.  However, a 72-year-old man testified before the grand jury that he was sexually abused in 1961 by Hammond while Hammond was assigned to St. Leo.  The victim attended the nearby Holy Redeemer High School. Hammond was known to invite male students from the high school to hang out at the St. Leo rectory.

According to the victim, he was summoned to Hammond’s rectory room and when he entered, the priest was masturbating.  Hammond fondled the boy and unsuccessfully attempted to remove the boy’s pants. The boy fled and immediately told his friends downstairs.  They all went upstairs and all of them observed Hammond masturbating in his bed. The victim also called his girlfriend, so panicked that her father actually allowed her to speak with the girl even though it was nearly 3AM.  She told the boys to get out of the rectory, which they did by way of “borrowing” the priest’s car.

They drove to the local police station and he told the officer on duty – Chief McGowan – everything that happened, including that the boys stole the priest’s car.  The Chief was a member of St. Leo’s parish and refused to do anything about the molestation or the stolen car. He simply sent the boys on their way and repeatedly told them he did not want to know anything else.

The victim went home and told his parents, who immediately contacted the Diocese first thing in the morning.  She was promised by an unnamed Chancery official that the matter would be investigated. They even came to the family home to retrieve Hammond’s car from the family home.

Hammond continued in ministry until his death in 1985.  There is no documentation of the allegation of abuse or any subsequent “investigation” in Hammond’s personnel file.  The grand jury took exception to the Hammond case for that reason, thanking the victim for his commitment to seeing the matter through, and the witnesses who offered corroboration of the victim’s testimony.  It said, “this is a sobering reminder that although 500,000 records were admitted into evidence before the grand jury, there are still crimes that could only be discovered through the voices of the victims.”

Hammond died in 1985, a priest in good standing.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Diocese of Scranton.  If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a priest in Pennsylvania, contact our office today. Although many years have passed, those abused by Catholic clergy in the Diocese of Scranton now have legal options to recover damages due to a compensation fund created for victims.  Contact us at (954) 641-2100 or today.