2nd Man Accuses Monsignor
Official Allegedly Molested Him as Boy

By Cindy Loose
Washington Post
September 12, 1992

A second man has said he was molested many years ago by Monsignor William T. Reinecke, who shot himself to death last month.

Reinecke, 53, longtime chancellor of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Arlington, committed suicide Aug. 11, two days after being confronted by a man who accused the monsignor of molesting him 25 years ago. Authorities said there was no evidence that the confrontation led to his death, and diocesan officials said Reinecke never had been suspected of any improprieties.

Yesterday, Joseph T. O'Brien Jr., 36, of Virginia Beach, said Reinecke molested him 23 years ago. O'Brien told his parents and siblings about the alleged incident seven years later. Family members said they made no official complaint at the time because a lawyer told them it would be a painful, losing battle.

O'Brien's accusation is similar to that of Joseph McDonald, 39, a former altar boy who said he confronted Reinecke Aug. 9 after the early Mass at St. James Catholic Church. McDonald, who is executive director of the Mental Health Association of Northern Virginia, said he urged Reinecke to resign and get help, and gave him his business card.

Two days later, Reinecke committed suicide. McDonald's card was found in the monsignor's suitcase at the Virginia monastery where he was on retreat.

The Rev. Curtis Clark, spokesman for the Arlington Diocese, said yesterday that he had not heard about O'Brien's allegation. O'Brien and his mother said they had not contacted the diocese but intended to write a letter.

After McDonald made his complaint, diocesan officials said they had asked parish groups to be alert for others and would make mental-health professionals available to follow up.

O'Brien and his mother, Bernice, said they made a painful decision to make the allegations publicly because they were relieved to hear they were not alone and wanted to support McDonald. They learned about newspaper accounts of McDonald's allegation a few days ago, when O'Brien's brother in Northern Virginia called family members in Virginia Beach.

"I felt vindicated when I heard about McDonald," O'Brien said. "I knew he was out on a limb and felt I should help."

McDonald said that although he has received supportive calls since his accusations were published last month, he also has gotten many negative letters and phones calls, including death threats.

He said his motive in pursuing the allegations despite Reinecke's death is "to encourage the church to do something so this will never happen again -- not to its children and not to its priests. If Father Reinecke had someone to go to, this may never have happened; not my abuse and not his suicide."

O'Brien said that he was fondled by Reinecke in 1969 during an overnight trip to Williamsburg with Reinecke and two other boys. O'Brien said he jumped out of the bed he was sharing with Reinecke, who later told the other two boys that O'Brien had had a nightmare.

McDonald's complaint also involves an overnight trip to Williamsburg about two years earlier. He alleges that the priest performed oral sex on him.

O'Brien did not tell anyone about the incident at the time, but his mother said she noticed that the formerly outgoing boy became depressed and withdrawn. When he was 20, she said, he "went into an absolute rage" after seeing Reinecke on a television show. He was admitted to an institution for several weeks and first made the allegations against Reinecke during therapy. About six years ago, his mother said, he was determined to have obsessive compulsive disorder, an illness that continues to plague him.

When O'Brien told his family about the alleged incident in 1976, "the only thing we did, all seven members of our family stopped going to Catholic church," his mother said. "We didn't have it in our hearts and souls to go back."

Falls Church police have received no further complaints since McDonald's became public, a spokesman said. A dispatcher added that after news reports of the first accusation, police phone lines were tied up by people calling to say Reinecke was a wonderful man and dedicated priest.


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