Ex-Monsignor's Abuse Case from 1972 to Be Dismissed

By Michael Fisher
Press Enterprise
July 12, 2003

San Bernardino County prosecutors have moved to drop charges

against a longtime Inland priest accused of sexually abusing a

teenage girl in Highland 30 years ago.

Documents to dismiss the case against Monsignor Patrick O'Keeffe

were filed Monday and are awaiting a judge's approval, said

Susan Mickey, spokeswoman for the San Bernardino County district

attorney's office, in a telephone interview.

Prosecutors say they were forced to dismiss the case after the

U.S. Supreme Court struck down the 1994 California law that

allowed authorities to prosecute decades-old cases alleging

sexual abuse.

O'Keeffe, 67, faced 15 felony counts of oral copulation with a

minor related to allegations involving a 17-year-old parishioner

at St. Adelaide Catholic Church in Highland in 1972. He left for

his native Ireland shortly before San Bernardino County

prosecutors charged him a year ago.

Nicki Rister, the woman who leveled the accusations against

O'Keeffe, said Friday that she was disappointed and frustrated

by the Supreme Court's ruling.

"It's a slap in the face to all victims, not just me," Rister

said Friday by telephone from her Colorado home. "It's not


Although The Press-Enterprise generally does not identify

possible victims of sexual abuse, Rister gave permission for her

name to be used.

O'Keeffe, a priest in San Diego and the Inland area since 1959,

worked in the Diocese of San Bernardino since its creation in

1978. The diocese encompasses Riverside and San Bernardino


Diocese officials said he was dismissed in 1994 after the

diocese reached a confidential settlement in a lawsuit filed by

one of three women who accused O'Keeffe of having an affair with

them. He retired as a priest in 1999.

The Supreme Court's recent ruling also means charges will be

dropped against Donald Farmer, a former Glendale priest accused

of molesting four children in Crestline in the mid-1960s, Deputy

District Attorney Jane Templeton said by phone.

Farmer, now a Fresno therapist, is next due to appear in court

Aug. 11, at which time the case will be dismissed, Templeton


On Tuesday, prosecutors dropped charges against Monsignor Peter

Luque, 69, who faced 10 felony counts of lewd acts on a child

stemming from allegations dating to 1963.

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