Former St. Louis Resident Who Settled Priest Abuse Case Confronts Retired Jesuit

Associated Press
December 20, 2003

A Virginia man met Saturday with a now retired Jesuit priest he accused of sexually abusing him more than 30 years ago in St. Louis.

In October, Kevin O'Connor, 50, received $185,000 for therapy and an apology from the Missouri Province of the Jesuits to settle his claim. The man he accused of abuse, the Rev. Jack Campbell of Denver, neither confirmed nor denied the allegations. He was never charged with a crime.

O'Connor, of Charlottesville, said he and his sister Kathy O'Connor-Long visited Campbell, who is now in his 80s, at the Xavier Jesuit Residence Center near Regis University where he lives.

O'Connor said Campbell apologized to him.

"He looked me right in the eye and apologized," O'Connor said. "I look at it as an admission. You can't apologize if you haven't done anything."

Campbell did not return two telephone messages seeking comment.

In his claim, O'Connor said he was sexually abused while a student at Saint Louis University High School where Campbell was a counselor in late 1969 and 1970.

The St. Louis-based Missouri Province settled O'Connor's claim in October. The settlement was announced by the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), a St. Louis-based advocacy group for abuse victims. In addition to the financial settlement, the head of the province and the high school president wrote letters of apology. No lawsuit was ever filed.

Campbell was removed from active ministry in 1989 following serious and credible allegations involving 13 victims, the Rev. Timothy McMahon, leader of the Missouri Province of the Jesuits, said in October. McMahon said five cases were reported by former Saint Louis University High School students; eight were from people who encountered Campbell elsewhere.

In an interview, O'Connor said he and his sister came to Denver to meet Campbell, hoping it would help his healing process. He also wanted to make area residents aware of Campbell's presence.

O'Connor said they went to the retirement center with a plant to deliver to Campbell. "He came down to get the poinsettia," he said. "He was cool as a cucumber."

O'Connor said the three met for about 30 minutes. O'Connor and his sister plan to return to the retirement home on Sunday and hand out leaflets about the settlement.

Saint Louis University High School was founded by the Jesuits, a Roman Catholic religious order of priests and brothers. The Missouri Province includes Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and Colorado.


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