A priest accused of sexual misconduct will be reinstated this week after an investigation cleared him of any wrongdoing.
57-year-old Father Michael W. O’Connell, pastor of St. Alphonsus Church in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood, will be reinstated after a four and a half month investigation into sexual misconduct allegations.
The allegations came from a man, now in his 20’s, who accused Father Mike of molesting him when he was in grade school at Our Lady of the Woods in Orland Park in 1990. He says Father Mike sexually assaulted him in CCD.
“I’ve never done anything inappropriate with a young person,” O’Connell said today after a Mass in which Francis Cardinal George made a public statement as Rev. O’Connell stood with him on the alter.
Fr. Mike says he never met his accuser and wishes him only peace and blessings in his life. He said he cooperated fully with the investigation.
“I trusted that justice would be done that the process would work that the truth would come out,” he said.
Besides the archdiocese, the Cook County Sheriff’s police and state’s attorney’s office also investigated. They issued this statement saying they thoroughly investigated the allegation and were unable to support any charges.
Barbara Blaine from the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests met with the alleged victim and believes him. SNAP is against reinstating Father Mike and believes there are others who will come forward now with similar allegations.
“What we have is insufficient evidence to bring charges. They are not saying the victim is not credible,” Blaine said.
Blaine says she is very leery of Cardinal George’s actions concerning accused priests in the past and says people should continue to be cautious.