|Ex-priest Gets 90 Days in Jail
By Brad Dicken
December 15, 2009
ELYRIA — A former Catholic priest who once served as chaplain to the Elyria Police Department was sentenced Monday to 90 days in jail and three years probation for having sexual contact with a 15-year-old boy in 1997.
Patrick O’Connor, 52, turned to face his victim, now 28 and seated in the back of the courtroom, and apologized for what he did 12 years ago.
“My actions were inexcusable, and I betrayed a sacred trust,” O’Connor said.
The victim wiped tears from his eyes but did not speak before Lorain County Common Pleas Judge Mark Betleski handed down the sentence. The victim also declined to comment as he left the courtroom.
The victim contacted the Cleveland Diocese in June 2008 and leveled the accusation of sexual misconduct against O’Connor, who was serving as chaplain to the Sisters of the Most Holy Trinity and Our Lady of Lourdes Shrine, both in Euclid, at the time.
The boy, who wasn’t a parishioner, told investigators that he had been molested by O’Connor on the grounds of St. Jude’s Church in Elyria, where O’Connor was a priest in 1997, said county Prosecutor Dennis Will.
During the hearing, Assistant County Prosecutor Mike Kinlin pushed Betleski to impose a longer prison term — the maximum sentence would have been 18 months — arguing that O’Connor had targeted another young victim during his priesthood.
It was “eerily similar” to what O’Connor did to “groom” the victim in the 1997 case, Kinlin said.
O’Connor resigned from the priesthood after the boy came forward last year, but he had been on administrative leave from the church from 2003 through 2007 while the Diocese investigated earlier sex abuse allegations. Those allegations stemmed from the time O’Connor was a priest at St. Joseph Church in Cuyahoga Falls during the late 1980s, and when they surfaced O’Connor resigned his post with Elyria police.
Although O’Connor was ultimately cleared of those allegations by the church, his posting in Euclid was designed to keep him away from children, according to the diocese.
Diocese spokesman Bob Tayek said the church cooperated with the investigation into the 1997 case and is committed to protecting children.
O’Connor, who pleaded guilty to corruption of a minor in September, was declared a Tier II sex offender and must register with the sheriff’s office every six months for 25 years.
O’Connor, who works as finance director for a car dealership and lives in Summit County, will have work release privileges while incarcerated and is set to report to jail on Jan. 4.
Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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