Abuse Victim: Bishop O'Brien Told Him to Keep Quiet, Get on with His Life

The Associated Press, carried in Tucson Citizen [Phoenix AZ]
March 12, 2004

PHOENIX - Catholic Bishop Thomas O'Brien told a man who said he was abused by a priest in the late 1980s to keep silent and move on with his life, the man testified Friday.

A Maricopa County judge was hearing testimony on Friday to help determine a sentence for O'Brien, who was convicted last month of leaving the scene of a fatal hit-and-run accident that killed a pedestrian.

O'Brien, believed to be the first Roman Catholic bishop in U.S. history to be convicted of a felony, could receive anything from probation to three years and nine months in prison when he is sentenced March 26.

Prosecutors declined to say what kind of sentence they would seek.

Testimony about O'Brien's alleged role in helping cover up abuse by priests in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix, which he oversaw until shortly after his arrest, was barred during the hit-and-run trial but is allowed during the sentencing phase.

Victor DiGiovine testified Friday that he was told to move on with his life after talking about his abuse.

"Shortly after the abuse, I agreed to a meeting with O'Brien and the priest who abused me. I was asked to forgive the man who had hurt me," he said.

The mothers of other abuse victims and the sister of the pedestrian, Jim Reed, also testified Friday.

"We miss our brother dearly," said Reed's sister, Janice Acothley.

Other Reed family members had also been scheduled to testify Friday.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.