Ex-Priest in Sex-Offender Program
Case Comes to Light Three Years after He Pleaded Guilty to Assault on 14-Year-Old
By Jean Torkelson
Rocky Mountain News [Denver CO]
May 21, 2002
A former Jesuit priest and instructor at Regis University is enrolled in Colorado's sex offender program after pleading guilty in 1999 to sexual assault on a 14-year-old girl he met through the Internet.
The downfall of Patrick Henry O'Liddy, a former campus minister and liturgy scholar, was well-known to his former Jesuit colleagues in Missouri, a spokesman at the religious order's St. Louis headquarters said Monday.
But they assumed the 3-year-old case would stay out of the public eye forever. That changed this week when the ongoing clergy sex-abuse scandal propelled the family of O'Liddy's victim to seek an apology from the Catholic Church, according to a report on News4. Back in 1999, "We were never approached by the young woman and her family, and I believe they were satisfied once the criminal charges were filed and the legal process took place," said the Rev. Phil Steele, executive assistant to the head of the Jesuit province in St. Louis. The girl's family, who have moved to Texas, could not be reached for comment.
O'Liddy, 45, was in the process of resigning from the priesthood when he was arrested in August 1999 at a Jefferson County mall as he tried to make a rendezvous with the girl, whom he met on the Internet.
He sent the teen photos of his genitalia, according to Jefferson County Sheriff's Office records.
The girl showed the photos to her mother, who called authorities. An investigator posed on the Internet as the teen and lured O'Liddy to the rendezvous spot.
O'Liddy is serving 10 years of probation. His last known address was Westminster. Steele said he has heard that his former colleague works in a religious-goods store in the Denver area.
O'Liddy was a doctoral candidate in worship and liturgy when he resigned from Regis University in 1996 to devote more time to finishing his degree. During his 18-month tenure at Regis, he had worked in adult education and campus ministry, spokesman Paul Brockert said.
"It's real important for people to realize he did a good job here," Brockert said. "We had no indication of any problems with him. He was in very good standing when he left here."
Steele recalled a colleague who "obviously had questions about his vocation, his life" when he took a leave of absence from the priesthood six months before his arrest.
"I don't want to sound like I don't care about the victim involved in this whole mess, but at this point I feel really sorry for Patrick because he was obviously struggling and he made a very awful choice," Steele said.
"The Internet is a kind of a dangerous thing. If you want it to be a porno bookstore in your bedroom, you can do it."
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