Reinstated Priest Patrick J. O'connor Resigns after New Sex Allegation

By David Briggs
The Plain Dealer

July 8, 2008

A cleric in the Cleveland Catholic Diocese who won reinstatement after being accused of sexually abusing a minor has resigned from the priesthood and may face criminal charges in the wake of a new allegation of sexual misconduct.

The Rev. Patrick J. O'Connor, former chaplain to Our Lady of Lourdes Shrine in Euclid, resigned following an allegation he abused a minor in 1997 while an associate pastor at St. Jude Catholic Church in Elyria, the diocese announced Monday.

O'Connor submitted his letter of resignation June 6, shortly after he was placed on leave in response to the new allegation, the diocese said in a release. The diocese said it also contacted Lorain County authorities.

The Elyria Police Department has nearly completed its investigation and is working with the Lorain County prosecutor, Lt. Andrew Eichenlaub said Monday. Lorain County Prosecutor Dennis Will said his office is reviewing the case.

O'Connor, 50, could not be reached for comment.

In an earlier case, he was placed on leave from a teaching position at Borromeo Seminary in Wickliffe in September 2003 following an accusation that he sexually abused a minor in the late 1980s while he was an associate pastor at St. Joseph Church in Cuyahoga Falls. The diocese said a subsequent investigation by the Diocesan Review Board revealed no abuse. The case was sent to the Vatican, which concluded that O'Connor should be allowed to return to ministry.

O'Connor was reinstated in September 2007. He was appointed chaplain to Our Lady of Lourdes Shrine and the Sisters of the Most Holy Trinity, with restrictions on his access to children, the diocese said.

Since spring 2002, the diocese has placed more than 20 priests on leave after finding what it said was sufficient evidence to support allegations of sexual abuse. O'Connor has been the only one to win reinstatement.


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