Joliet Priest James Nowak

Father James Nowak

Difficulties with Father James Nowak began early on while he was still in the seminary.  In 1960, he was asked to leave the Capuchin Order because he was not “fit in regard to the vow of chastity.”  It was generally known that Nowak repeatedly watched others in the shower or using the restroom, and would roam the corridors and frequent the showers in order to seek such opportunities.  When he wrote to Bishop Blanchette in 1966 to request incardination into the Diocese of Joliet, he disclosed that he had been asked to leave the Capuchin Order because of his problems with chastity.  Despite this knowledge, Bishop Blanchette welcomed Nowak to the Diocese of Joliet, where he would eventually sexually abuse numerous children over the next three decades.  As early as 1967, the Diocese became aware of Father Nowak taking groups of children to swimming pools where he would swim and shower with them.  However, no restrictions were put on his behavior until 1990, when the Diocese prohibited him from being in any “locker room-type situations” with anyone under the age of 25.  Multiple victims of Father Nowak have come forward and described abuse at neighborhood pools, including Bolingbrook Park District. Father Nowak retired in 2007 and was placed on administrative leave in 2012 due to multiple accusations of childhood sexual abuse.

Read the secret priest file on Father James Nowak