Many Reports about Priest Preceded Boy’s Suicide, Parents Say
May 17, 2013
Local Catholic officials received numerous reports alleging inappropriate behavior by a priest before a 14-year-old boy took his life in 1983, a motion filed this week by the boy’s parents says.
But the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese failed to act on the reports about Monsignor Thomas O’Brien, the motion alleges, and Brian Teeman committed suicide after suffering repeated sexual abuse by the priest.
The motion, filed in Jackson County Circuit Court, is packed with excerpts from depositions of dozens of witnesses — including priests and nuns — and an affidavit from a former school board president at Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary School, who said she complained about O’Brien to a former bishop, then resigned and pulled her son from the school in the 1980s because nothing was done about it.
Brian died of a gunshot wound to the head in November 1983 at the family’s home in Independence.
The motion is part of a wrongful-death lawsuit filed against the diocese and O’Brien by Don and Rosemary Teeman. The Teemans filed the suit in September 2011 after a man who had served as an altar boy with their son told them of the alleged abuse. The lawsuit says the diocese shares responsibility for Brian’s death because church officials knew that O’Brien was sexually abusing boys but covered it up.
“They had, by the time Brian Teeman committed suicide, received no less than 17 reports of serious danger to children by this priest but chose to hide that information and ignore its responsibility to report his illegal behavior to the authorities,” the motion says.