|Priest Accused of Sexual Assault Resigns As Pastor
February 25, 1985
A priest who faces charges of sexually assaulting two teen-age boys has resigned as pastor of his church.
The Rev. William C. O'Connell is free on his own recognizance pending arraignment Friday on charges of sexually assaulting two boys, aged 13 and 15.
On Sunday, in a letter read from the pulpit to parishioners of St. Mary's, O'Connell's church, Bishop Louis E. Gelineau announced that the pastor had stepped down.
The letter, read by the Rev. Robert C. Evans, who conducted Masses in the absence of O'Connell, named the Rev. Charles B. McDermott, pastor of St. John's Church in Providence, as O'Connell's replacement.
"In fairness to all parties concerned, I presently have no comment on the charges made against Father O'Connell other than to say we are confident that the judicial process will run its normal course," the letter said.
"It would be inappropriate for us to discuss this matter any further since it is presently in the hands of legal officers."
Meanwhile, parishioner Andrew DeSaulniers, said the shock of the arrest "has just begun to sink in.
"I personally don't feel he is guilty, but I don't think he would have come back anyway, because this was just too much of a shock to him," he said.
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