Families Modify Priest Abuse Suit

By Kevin Harter
Pioneer Press [Hudson Wis]
December 12, 2006

Four months after a lawsuit was filed against nearly 200 Catholic bishops seeking names and church reforms, it was amended Monday to focus on identifying priests accused of molestation.

St. Paul attorney Jeff Anderson said the suit was amended to simplify and streamline the lawsuit seeking the names of more than 5,000 priests by the families of Dan O'Connell and James Ellison.

The goal is to publicize the list, which is only known to the church, according to the lawsuit.

While an effort seeking priest recruitment changes and other reforms was removed from the suit, Tom O'Connell Jr. said the families will continue to push for them, but wanted the lawsuit to be clearer and more straightforward.

" We want to focus on what is most crucial first — the identities of the dangerous predators — so that kids can be protected and parents can be warned," he said.

Funeral director O'Connell, 39, and University of Minnesota intern Ellison, 22, were shot to death at the O'Connell Family Funeral Home in 2002 in Hudson.

A judge ruled in 2005 that the Rev. Ryan Erickson, who had committed suicide, likely killed the men after parishioner O'Connell became suspicious the priest was behaving inappropriately with minors at St. Patrick's Catholic Church.


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