Week after Being Cleared, Chicago Preist Faces New Sex Abuse Allegation
By Sean Lewis
April 21, 2014
A Chicago priest, accused in December of sexual abuse, faces a new allegation today from a man who says he witnessed another incident of abuse 15 years ago.
Father Michael O’Connell stepped down as pastor at St Alphonsus Parish in Lakeview when the original allegations were made in December. And just last week, after an investigation, O’Connell was reinstated by the archdiocese when the Cook County Sheriff called the allegations unfounded.
But now the Cook County Sheriff’s Dept says it has now reopened their investigation.
Today new allegations came from a 33-year-old man who claims that he witnessed Father O’Connell sexually abuse a young teenage boy in the locker room of a south suburban gym in 1999. O’Connell, he says, had his hand down the front of the other boy’s pants.
At the time, O’Connell was priest at Our Lady of the Woods parish in Orland Park.
The man now lives out of state but came forward because he say he believes Father O’Connell to be dangerous.
The organization, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, calls the witness John Doe # 2. He says didn’t know O’Connell was a priest when he witnessed this alleged sexual abuse in a gym locker room, but because of threats made to him by O’Connell after witnessing it, he kept quiet until now.
John Doe #2, again, says he’s a witness to abuse and does not know who the boy in question actually is, just that he may have been a new student at Marist High School at the time. Earlier today, he talked with law enforcement officials about the allegations.
The archdiocese says it would like to talk with John Doe #2 about what he says he witnessed before it takes any action against Father O’Connell at this time.