Fr. William Farrell: Allegations of Sexual Abuse of a Minor Have Been Admitted, Established or Determined to Be Credible

Fr. William Farrell


  • 1947 – 1961: St. Frederick Parish, Cudahy
  • 1961 – 1962: St. Dominic Parish, Sheboygan
  • 1962  – 1963: St. Cecilia Parish, Thiensville
  • 1953 – 1966: Catholic Family Life Office
  • 1966 – 1967: Holy Family Parish, Reeseville
  • 1967 – 1967: St. Thomas Parish, Waterford
  • 1967 – 1969: St. Joseph Hospital, Milwaukee
  • 1969 – 1973: Presentation Parish, North Fond du Lac
  • 1973 – 1990: St. Gerard Parish, Milwaukee

William Farrell Documents  | William Farrell Timeline

In May, 1990, 43 years after being ordained, Farrell sought from and was granted permission by Archbishop Weakland to retire for health reasons. His retirement was effective on July 30, 1990.

Several years later, in December, 1993, a female victim contacted the archdiocese to discuss concerns over approval of her therapy. She also questioned if the archdiocese had confronted Farrell regarding the allegations of his abuse, and was told that it had not yet been done due to the unavailability of a particular priest.  Almost a year later, on November 10, 1994, a victim called the archdiocese to report allegations of abuse by a priest referred to as “Farrow,” at St. Gerard’s Parish when he was 12 to 13-years-old.

Subsequently, in April, 1995, a prisoner sent a letter to the archdiocese reporting that he was allegedly abused by a priest he identified as “Farrow” or “Pharrow” at St. Frederick’s Parish, Cudahy, in 1957 or 1958, when he was six or seven-years-old. (Farrell was indeed serving as assistant pastor at St. Frederick’s during that period.)

In May, 1995, Archbishop Weakland decided not to notify Farrell that his ministry was going to be restricted due to these allegations, since Farrell’s poor health prevented him from performing any ministry. However, in the event Farrell’s condition improved, he was to refrain from all contact with minors, cease public ministry, avoid places that were of serious temptation and not to hear confession.

In early June, 1996, a representative of the archdiocese exchanged letters with the victim, who had reported abuse while in prison, concerning the victim’s inquiry into the status of the investigation of his report of abuse by Farrell. The archdiocese had recently written a letter to the victim stating that the archdiocese took reports of sexual abuse seriously, and intended to investigate the allegations.

That same month, the archdiocese, Farrell, and St. Frederick’s Parish entered into a settlement with a victim.

Farrell died on September 18, 1999.

In August, 2004, when a relative of Farrell’s inquired about the latter’s history of assignments from his ordination in 1947 until his retirement in 1990, Archbishop Dolan advised the relative that none of the transfers were a result of any reports made against him. Also in 2004, Archbishop Dolan wrote to a victim to apologize for the abuse he had suffered, to acknowledge his courage in reporting it, and to advise him of resources available to him to assist him in addressing the abuse.