|2nd Woman Accuses Former Inland Priest : Report: She Says He Sexually Abused Her When He Was Assigned to a Highland Parish.
By Michael Fisher
August 28, 2002
A second woman is accusing a longtime Inland priest of sexually
abusing her nearly three decades ago at a Highland church.
The woman, whose name was not released, claims she was a
17-year-old parishioner at St. Adelaide Catholic Church when
Monsignor Patrick O'Keeffe abused her, said San Bernardino
sheriff's Sgt. Jack Trotter.
O'Keeffe, 67, was charged last month with 15 felony counts of
oral copulation with a minor stemming from his alleged 1972
involvement with another 17-year-old parishioner at the church.
Trotter said detectives have been unable to locate O'Keeffe, a
native of Ireland who was last living in Laguna Niguel.
"He had told some close friends that he was going to Ireland in
a few days. That was about three weeks ago. We're working on
contacting authorities over there now," Trotter said.
The latest accusations are "going to help corroborate some of
the first victim's allegations against O'Keeffe," Trotter said.
"The contact with the second victim wasn't as substantial as the
first, but it's still a crime."
He declined to discuss details of the second woman's
accusations, but said both women claim some of the sexual
contact with O'Keeffe occurred on the grounds of the East Base
Felony sex crimes against juveniles are not subject to the
normal statute of limitations in California as long as the
allegations involve "substantial sexual conduct" and there is
independent, corroborating evidence, prosecutors said.
"It's going to be up to the DA," Trotter said of the chances
that the second woman's allegation will result in added charges.
"It's going to be close."
The two victims did not know each other, Trotter said, and the
second woman is a couple of years younger than the first. Other
information about the second victim was not released.
Trotter said the new victim contacted detectives within the past
10 days after authorities announced Aug. 15 that they had
quietly filed charges against O'Keeffe in mid-July.
The Rev. Howard Lincoln, spokesman for the Diocese of San
Bernardino, declined to comment Tuesday, saying the diocese was
unaware that a second woman had lodged allegations against
O'Keeffe. The million-member Diocese of San Bernardino
encompasses Riverside and San Bernardino counties.
O'Keeffe, a priest in San Diego and the Inland area since 1959,
had worked in the diocese since it was created out of the
Dicoese of San Diego in 1978. He served as pastor at St.
Adelaide from 1971 to 1976.
Lincoln previously said his diocese dismissed O'Keeffe from all
parish duties in 1994 after it reached a confidential settlement
to end a lawsuit brought by one of three adult women who had
accused O'Keeffe of sexual misconduct.
Someone who claimed to be O'Keeffe's attorney called sheriff's
dispatchers nearly two weeks ago and said the former priest
would turn himself in on Aug. 19. That did not occur, Trotter
O'Keeffe retired as a priest in 1999, but began teaching
religion at St. Anne Elementary and Middle School in Laguna
Niguel in 1997. He was dismissed by the school after the first
woman's allegations surfaced in April.
Lincoln said the diocese erred in 1997 by not telling school
administrators about the previous allegations of sexual
misconduct against O'Keeffe when St. Anne's asked the diocese
about the priest's past.
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