New Lawsuits Accuse Priests of Abuse

By Mark Morris
Kansas City Star
June 26, 2008

Alleged victims of clergy sexual abuse filed two new suits Thursday against the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph.

William Prather, a 61-year-old Colorado man, alleged that Monsignor Thomas J. O'Brien sexually abused him at a Catholic high school in 1961. O'Brien has been the target of numerous such suits in recent years.

"If I can, with my actions, prevent this kind of abuse and activity from being put upon other potential victims in the future, it's worth it," Prather said in a phone interview.

A lawyer representing O'Brien could not be reached for comment.

Prather contended in his suit that O'Brien abused him at least five times, telling him that it was a "strategy to dissuade (Prather) from masturbation."

A spokeswoman for the diocese declined comment on the specifics of the suits filed Thursday but urged anyone with knowledge of such conduct to contact both civil and church authorities.

A second suit identified O'Brien as a defendant, as well as Father Thomas Reardon, who also has faced numerous abuse allegations.

In that action, an unidentified 48-year-old plaintiff alleged that both O'Brien and Reardon touched his leg suggestively in 1977 while he installed a ceiling fan at a Lake Viking home north of Kansas City.

The man said he rejected the advances by grabbing Reardon's hand and bending his fingers back hard.

The priests, he alleged, attributed their actions to their drinking.

According to a statement from the diocese, O'Brien and Reardon no longer are allowed to function as priests.

To reach Mark Morris, call 816-234-4310 or send e-mail to


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