Priest Sued Again for Molestation

By Graham Brink
St. Petersburg Times
October 13, 2004

Another former student at Mary Help of Christians School has filed a lawsuit that claims Father Terence O'Donnell molested him.

The suit, filed Tuesday in Hillsborough County Circuit Court under the name John Doe 82C, states that school and church officials knew O'Donnell had a history of molesting boys and did not act to prevent his preying on the boy.

The suit names as defendants O'Donnell and the Salesians of Don Bosco religious order, which runs the school. The suits seeks an undisclosed amount in damages for sexual abuse, negligence, fraud, intentional infliction of emotional distress and conspiracy, among other charges.

The boy was 12 or 13 years old when the molestation took place in 1992, according to the suit. The church removed O'Donnell from the school after the incident and sent him to Boston. O'Donnell now works for the Salesians as a priest in New Rochelle, N.Y., the suit states.

The school, on Chelsea Street near Interstate 4, used to be all male but went coed five years ago.

In November, two men sued O'Donnell, the school and the Salesians for similar allegations. Both victims, known as John Doe 82A and John Doe 82B, said O'Donnell molested them in the early 1990s as they slept in the school dorm. They came forward with their allegations because they thought some friends and former classmates also were victimized.

One of the men said he told his parents after the incident, who met with school officials. The officials assured them they would take care of the problem, the man said through his attorney.

A week later, two men in suits, who said they worked for the school, questioned him and told him he was dreaming and that nothing sexual had occurred, the plaintiff said in a statement.

Officials with the Salesians could not be reached for comment late Tuesday. After the suit was filed last year, the religious order issued a statement saying O'Donnell had been removed from public ministry pending review of the allegations by a provincial board.

The office said O'Donnell was investigated in 1993 by state child protection workers for the same allegations, and no charges were filed.


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