Two Diocesan Priests Named in New Sex Abuse Lawsuits.

Roman Catholic Diocese of Wilmington
June 25, 2009

June 25, 2009 --- (Wilmington, DE) --- Two priests of the Diocese of Wilmington – one deceased and one retired – have been named in separate lawsuits alleging sexual abuse of minors, the Diocese of Wilmington announced today. Prior to the filing of these lawsuits, there had been no allegations of this nature against either of these priests.

Rev. John Francis O’Brien, who passed away on January 7, 2003, is accused of abuse of a minor in the early 1960s.

Fr. O’Brien was ordained in 1962 and during the first ten years of his priesthood he served as associate pastor of St. Paul’s Church in Wilmington, St. Helena’s Church in Wilmington and St. Ann’s Church in Wilmington. In 1972 Fr. O’Brien was appointed pastor of Our Lady of Fatima Church in New Castle, Delaware. In 1982 he became pastor of St. Elizabeth’s Church in Wilmington. Fr. O’Brien was assigned as pastor of St. Mary Magdalen Church in Wilmington in 1997 and served in that capacity until his death. He also served the Diocese of Wilmington as director of the Catholic Youth Organization (CYM).

Rev. James Edward Richardson, retired, age 77, is accused of sexually abusing a minor on two occasions in the late 1960s. Fr. Richardson denies the allegations.

In accordance with diocesan policy and the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People adopted by the Catholic Bishops of the United States in June 2002, Bishop W. Francis Malooly has suspended Fr. Richardson’s priestly faculties. Fr. Richardson is not allowed to function as a priest in public pending the outcome of an investigation into the matter.

Ordained in 1965, Fr. Richardson served as associate pastor of St. Mathew’s Church in Wilmington, St. Mary of the Assumption Church in Hockessin, Delaware and Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Wilmington. He was appointed pastor of the Cathedral of St. Peter in 1977. Since 1982, Fr. Richardson has been involved in drug and alcohol counseling and served as part-time chaplain at St. Edmond’s Academy in Wilmington.

It is the policy of the Diocese of Wilmington to deal with allegations of sexual abuse of minors with transparency while acknowledging that individuals are assumed innocent until proven otherwise. The diocese urges anyone who had been sexually exploited or abused by a priest, brother, sister or lay person employed by the diocese or by a church volunteer in service to a parish or school or other church organization, to notify local law enforcement and to call the diocesan Victim Assistance Coordinator, Peggy McLaughlin at 302-656-0651 who will arrange for counseling, pastoral and other supportive care.

The Diocese of Wilmington is committed to victim outreach and their spiritual and emotional wellbeing, having been found in complete compliance with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People for five consecutive years. In 2003 the diocese implemented a comprehensive safe environment program entitled “For the Sake of God’s Children”. The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People and various related documents can be found at Information on the Diocese of Wilmington and its child protection, safe environment and victims assistance programs can be found at

# # #

Contact: Bob Krebs


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