|Cleveland Diocese Priest Resigns Following Second Allegation of Abuse
July 8, 2008
CLEVELAND — A priest resigned from the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland after another allegation of sexual misconduct with a minor was reported.
Reverend Patrick J. O'Connor was placed on administrative leave after reports surfaced of sexual misconduct with a minor in 1997. This was the second time he had been put on administrative leave for such an allegation.
He submitted his resignation on June 6, 2008. The diocese announced the resignation Monday.
In accordance with Diocesan policy, the allegation of sexual misconduct was shared with civil authorities and given to the Diocesan Review Board, the independent body created to examine such matters.
According to a press release from the Diocese, O'Connor had already been put on administrative leave from Sept. 2003 through Sept. 2007 following an unrelated allegation of sexual misconduct with a minor. O'Connor returned to priestly ministry after the Diocese of Cleveland Review Board, through its investigation, determined no instance of sexual abuse of a minor had been established and there were no factors shown which should prevent O'Connor's return.
The matter was also presented to the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for review, as required by the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People and the Essential Norms of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The Congregation also concluded that O'Connor could return to the ministry. O'Connor was subsequently appointed in the fall of 2007 Chaplain to the Sisters of the Most Holy Trinity and Chaplain to Our Lady Lourdes Shrine. Both are located in Euclid.
According to the press release, O'Connor's access to children was restricted at the time of his reinstatement after the Diocese determined to gradually return O'Connor to ministry given society's sensitivities regarding the placement of a returning cleric to public ministry following such an allegation.
Upon receiving the most recent allegation, the Diocese submitted all information to the Lorain County Prosecutor.
The investigating authority, the Elyria Police Department, reportedly asked the Dioces to refrain from making any public announcements of O'Connor's removal from the ministry and his resignation from the priesthood until their investigation was completed.
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