Ex-St. Jude Priest Accused of Sexual Offenses with Teen

By Matt Suman
Morning Journal
July 8, 2008

ELYRIA - An Elyria man, now 27, has alleged that he was the victim of sexual misconduct by a former Catholic priest at St. Jude Church in 1997.

Elyria police investigated the complaint and now it's up to the Lorain County Prosecutor's Office to decide whether to present it to the county grand jury.

The subject of the investigation, the Rev. Patrick J. O'Connor, submitted a letter of resignation from the priesthood to the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland on June 6 after he was told of a recently reported allegation of sexual misconduct with a minor and placed on administrative leave, according to the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland.

Elyria police Lt. Andy Eichenlaub said the man reported that the sexual misconduct happened at St. Jude Church, 590 Poplar St., in 1997.

"The alleged offense took place in Elyria," Eichenlaub said. "(O'Connor) was working in Elyria (at the time)." The man who made the complaint also lived in Elyria.

The Catholic Diocese of Cleveland told the Lorain County Prosecutor's Office about the complaint on June 4. The alleged victim reported the incident to the diocese, Eichenlaub said.

Lorain County Prosecutor Dennis Will said Elyria police have brought the report from the investigation to his office. Prosecutors have not yet determined whether the allegations will be presented to the county grand jury.

"We have to review the file," Will said. "Whenever we get done with our review process, we will decide which way to go."

The allegation brought to the diocese against O'Connor was not the first against him. The diocese placed O'Connor on administrative leave from September 2003 to September 2007 for an unrelated allegation of sexual misconduct with a minor, the diocese said in a statement.

The Diocese of Cleveland Review Board determined no instance of sexual abuse of a minor had been established and that there were no factors shown which should prevent O Connor's return to the ministry. As required by the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People and the Essential Norms of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the matter was presented to the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith for review and determination.

The Vatican determined that O'Connor was allowed to be involved in priestly ministry. In the fall of 2007, O'Connor was appointed chaplain to the Sisters of the Most Holy Trinity and chaplain to Our Lady of Lourdes Shrine, both in Euclid.

Barbara Blaine, president of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests said the career of an adult was put ahead of the rights of a victim.

"It's reckless for the church to put a predator that they know about back in place," she said.

Eichenlaub declined to say whether or not O'Connor made a statement to police concerning the allegation. A representative of St. Jude could not be reached for comment yesterday.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.