MO–Second-ever clergy “contract breach” suit is precedent-setting and encouraging, SNAP says

Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests

For immediate release: Thursday, Dec. 31, 2015

Statement by Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 503 0003 cell,

A woman who was sexually abused by a Jesuit who became the president of St. Louis University has become the second victim to settle a “breach of contract” case against Catholic officials. We applaud her for her courage, her persistence and her concern for others who may be hurt or betrayed by Jesuits.

These highly unusual abuse and breach of contract lawsuits are very encouraging. We hope and believe other victims will start using this tactic.

–In this just-settled case, a New York woman was sexually violated by Fr. Daniel O’Connell (then a professor, later the president of SLU), who is believed to still be living in St. Louis. According to the New York Times, Fr. O’Connell “was accused of sexually assaulting a 20-year-old college student in 1983.” In 2003, his Jesuit supervisors “found the accusation credible,” paid her $181,000 settlement and agreed to remove O’Connell “from a teaching post at another Jesuit institution” and bar him “from public ministry” or any activity in which he could develop a relationship with a woman.

[New York Times]

In 2010, this woman filed a suit accusing O’Connell’s Jesuit supervisors of breaking that promise by letting him teach in Oklahoma, engage in public ministry in Germany, and speak at symposia and seminars at several universities.

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