|Accusations Yield No Added Charges : Law: but Two Women Could Testify in a Pending Case against a Former San Bernardino Priest.
By Michael Fisher
September 28, 2002
A former Inland priest charged with sexually abusing a teenage
girl in 1972 will not face additional counts for allegedly
molesting two other girls, prosecutors said Friday.
The new allegations against Monsignor Patrick O'Keeffe do not
involve substantial sexual conduct, which is required in order
for the statute of limitations to be waived, according to Deputy
District Attorney Laura Robles.
However, Robles said she intends to call the women as witnesses
to testify in the pending case against O'Keeffe.
The names of the cleric's accusers have not been released. None
of the girls, now adults, know each other, San Bernardino County
sheriff's detectives said.
The 67-year-old retired priest was charged in July with 15
felony counts of oral copulation with a minor stemming from his
alleged 1972 involvement with a 17-year-old parishioner at St.
Adelaide Catholic Church in Highland.
A second woman alleged last month that O'Keeffe also molested
her in 1971 when she was a 17-year-old parishioner at the same
church, detectives said.
O'Keeffe's third accuser alleges the priest molested her when
she was 14 years old at a church in Chino in the early 1990s,
Detectives have been unable to locate O'Keeffe, who was last
living in Laguna Niguel. He reportedly told close friends that
he planned to return to his native Ireland.
The Rev. Howard Lincoln, spokesman for the Diocese of San
Bernardino, declined to comment Tuesday, saying he had no
information about either of the latest allegations against
O'Keeffe. Lincoln said neither accuser has contacted the
diocese, which 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
Diocese 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.
O'Keeffe retired as a priest in 1999, but had been teaching
religion at St. Anne Elementary and Middle School in Laguna
Niguel in 1997. He was dismissed by the Orange County 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.
Investigators are asking anyone with information about
O'Keeffe's whereabouts to call detectives at (909) 387-3615.
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