Second Man Accuses Priest
April 21, 2014
Holding signs and childhood photos at a sidewalk news conference, clergy sex abuse victims will disclose that
– a second accuser is reporting that he was assaulted by a just-reinstated priest, and
– he's meeting today with police and archdiocesan officials.
They will also urge Chicago's Cardinal Francis George to
– suspend the credibly accused child molesting cleric immediately,
– put him in a treatment center, and
– aggressively seek out others who saw, suspected or suffered the priests crimes or misdeeds and encourage them to call police or prosecutors, not Catholic officials.
Monday, April 21 at 1:30 p.m.
Outside the archdiocesan headquarters/chancery office, 835 N. Rush St (corner of Chestnut) Chicago, IL
Three-four victims of clergy sex crimes who belong to an international support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, including the organization’s long time president
Last week, Chicago's Cardinal Francis George put an accused predator priest back on the job in a parish. Today, a second man who reports having been assaulted by Fr. Michael O'Connell will file a police report, meet with church officials and speak publicly about his experiences.
Last December, because of child sex abuse allegations, Fr. O’Connell stepped down from his post at St. Alphonsus Catholic parish (1429 W. Wellington Ave., 773 525 0709) in Lakeview. He was accused of molesting a boy when he worked at Our Lady of the Woods Parish (708 361 4754) in Orland Park (1997-2012).
But on April 15, archdiocesan officials announced that they consider the abuse allegations against Fr. O'Connell be “unfounded.”
Now a second man is reporting that he too was hurt by Fr. O'Connell, in a one-time incident in the 1990s at a gym. The man, who was an older teen at the time, has not disclosed this before to either secular or church authorities.
SNAP says in dozens of cases across the country, Catholic officials have reinstated an accused child molesting cleric only to later oust him permanently. Cardinal George has done that at least three times in the past few years regarding Fr Bennett, Fr McCormick and Fr. Klein.
It takes a great deal of courage and strength for child sex abuse victims to speak up, SNAP contends, and only two percent of allegations against priests are “false.”
Victims often suffer in silence and self blame for decades, the group says. SNAP hopes that others will not be discouraged by Fr. O’Connell’s reinstatement and that Catholic officials and parishioners will remain vigilant in reporting known or suspected crimes to secular authorities, not church figures.
Victims charge that Fr. O'Connell's reinstatement shows that Catholic officials care more about the reputations of accused clerics than about the safety of children or the suffering of victims.
SNAP believes Fr. O’Connell should be suspended immediately and put in a remote, secure, independent treatment center so that kids will be safe. The group also says that, according to church policy, Fr. O’Connell should have been suspended, not allowed to “voluntarily” step aside in the first place (which SNAP says minimizes his alleged crimes and enables more parishioners to complacently assume he’s innocent).
Fr. O'Connell's second accuser will speak at the SNAP news conference today but won't show his face & or disclose his identity.