|Former Cleveland Catholic Diocese Priest Begins Jail Sentence for Sexual Offense
By Michael O'malley
The Plain Dealer
January 5, 2010
ELYRIA, Ohio -- A former priest of the Cleveland Catholic Diocese reported Monday to Lorain County Jail where he began a 90-day sentence for having sexual contact with a 15-year-old boy in 1997.
The Rev. Patrick O'Connor, 52, who had ministered at Our Lady of Lourdes Shrine in Euclid, St. Jude in Elyria and St. Joseph in Cuyahoga Falls, pleaded guilty in September to corruption of a minor.
He was originally charged with sexual battery, which carries a five-year prison sentence, but a plea bargain reduced the crime.
Besides jail time, O'Connor was sentenced to three years' probation and declared a sex offender, which, under Ohio law, requires him to register all his contact information -- address, telephone, e-mail etc. -- with his local sheriff's office every six months for 25 years.
He also is forbidden to live within 1,000 feet of a school.
O'Connor, who lives in Summit County, could not be reached for comment Monday. Jail officials said he reported for incarceration at 4:15 p.m.
O'Connor resigned from the priesthood in June 2008, shortly after his victim, who is now 28, told the diocese he had been sexually abused by the priest at St. Jude.
It was not the first time O'Connor was accused of sexual misconduct with a minor.
In 2003, he was suspended from a teaching job at Borromeo Seminary in Wickliffe after being accused of sexually abusing a minor in the late 1980s when he was associate pastor of St. Joseph in Cuyahoga Falls.
Investigations by the diocese and the Vatican in Rome found no evidence of abuse and O'Connor was reinstated in September 2007, but with restrictions on access to children.
Diocese spokesman Robert Tayek said the diocese cooperated with the Lorain County prosecutor's office in its investigation of O'Connor.
"The Diocese of Cleveland remains committed to the protection of children and young people," he said, noting that any signs of clergy misconduct should be reported to the diocese by calling 216-334-2999, e-mailing response firstname.lastname@example.org or by alerting local law enforcement authorities.
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