Within two years of Owen’s ordination, he was causing trouble in his assignments, including child sex abuse and other bizarre behavior. By1969, four years after Owens’ ordination, the Archdiocese was having difficulty finding a parish that would house the cleric, even if he was just assigned there as a priest on sick leave. A victim came forward to the Archdiocese that same year and Owens resigned. He was laicized in 1971.
In a 2006 announcement, the Archdiocese said that Owens resigned in 1991. There is no explanation for the discrepancy.
Owens’ whereabouts are unknown.
TIMELINE OF DOCUMENTS– JOSEPH OWENS
1965 – Ordained
1966 - St. Gertrude Parish According to a 2004 Report, Owens sexually abused a minor. The abuse consisted of discussing sexuality and profanity with the minor and fondling him to undress and fondling the minor’s genitals following a confession. Owens instructed the minor that what had occurred was strictly confidential and part of his penance. (AOC 004423)
According to a 2004 Report, Owens sexually abused a minor at St. Gertrude’s parish when the minor was 10 years old. The abuse consisted of discussing sexuality and profanity, undressing and fondling the minor following a confession, and telling the minor that what had taken place was part of confession. (AOC 004434)
According to a 2005 Report, Owens sexually abused a minor when the minor was in the sixth grade. The abuse consisted of fondling and discussing sexuality and profanity with the minor. (AOC 004415)
According to a 2005 Report, Owens sexually abused a minor when the minor was in the sixth or seventh grade. The abuse consisted of discussing sexuality and profanity and fondling the minor’s genitals on a retreat to St. Mary’s of the Lake Seminary in Mundelein, Illinois. (AOC 004420)
St. Philomena Parish
5/10/68 Minutes of Archdiocesan Personnel Board stating that Owens will be assigned, if possible, as a resident on sick leave with close supervision preferably on the North Side. (AOC 004400)
5/27/68 According to Archdiocesan Personnel Board Minutes, St. Martha’s and St. James are unwilling to take Owens. (AOC 004404)5/12/69 Minutes of the Archdiocesan Personnel Board stating that W. Goedert met with Owens and informed him that his appointment would not be announced, that the new pastor would be informed that Owens had difficulty, and that if the assignment “was a source of bizarre behavior, the next alternative would be serious consideration of laicization.” (AOC 004399)
6/2/69 According to Archdiocesan Personnel Board minutes, S. Ryzner does not want Owens and that Owens has moved from a leave of absence to St. Mary in Evanston. (AOC 004406- AOC 004407)
According to the Minutes of the 4/16/1994 Meeting of the Review Board, a former survivor of abuse by Owens at St. Philomena’s Parish contacted the Office to report abuse. (AOC 004360)
1970 – Resigned
4/71 – Laicized
8/19/06 According to the Minutes of the Professional Responsibility Review Board, Owens sexually abused a minor by describing genitalia, exposing himself forcing the minor to expose himself and fondling the minor’s genitals while describing them to him. (AOC 004386)