A special tribunal has notified the Diocese of Phoenix that it has found Fr. John Spaulding guilty of sins against the Sixth Commandment with a minor, stemming from four accusations of sexual abuse against the priest.

Fr. John Spaulding
Fr. John Spaulding

The judgment was reached by an independent panel of three judges from around the country. The panel was convened at the direction of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome and tasked with the responsibility of investigating abuse allegations against Fr. Spaulding. The three-judge panel was made up of priests from around the country with doctorates in canon law.

The special tribunal recommended that Fr. Spaulding be dismissed from the clerical state, a process commonly known as “laicization.” Fr. Spaulding has the right to appeal and has a canon lawyer representing him throughout the court process.

As a result of the judgment, the penalty of laicization would become effective upon finalization of the case by the CDF, following the completion of any appeal made by Fr. Spaulding and confirmation by the Holy See. Fr. Spaulding would no longer be permitted to function in any way as a priest of the Church and could not identify himself as a Catholic priest.

In June 2011, Fr. Spaulding was placed on administrative leave from St. Timothy Parish in Mesa following an investigation and determination that an allegation against him of sexual misconduct with a minor was credible, meaning that the allegation appeared to have a semblance of truth and therefore warranted direction from the Holy See.[quote_box_right]


The accusation dated back over 25 years. In July and August of that same year, three additional claims were made, alleging that Fr. Spaulding engaged in sexual misconduct with three other individuals when they were minors in the 1970s and 1980s. In each case, the accusers were encouraged to contact law enforcement.

Since his incardination into the Phoenix Diocese in 1971, Fr. Spaulding served at a number of parishes, including Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Glendale, Christ the King Parish in Mesa, Santa Teresita Parish in El Mirage, St. Louis the King Parish in Glendale, St. Raphael Parish in Glendale, St. Helen Parish in Glendale, St. Maria Goretti Parish in Scottsdale, St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Phoenix, St. Gabriel the Archangel Parish in Cave Creek, and St. Timothy Parish in Mesa.


The Diocese of Phoenix is committed to providing a safe environment where it values and honors every individual as created in the image and likeness of God. Great efforts have been made to put systems into place to keep our young people safe. Anyone who has been a victim of abuse or who may have information concerning these crimes is encouraged to call a local law enforcement agency.

Additionally, the Diocese of Phoenix provides support services through its Office of Child and Youth Protection. Call (602) 354-2396.