Priest accused of sexual misconduct cleared, resumes role at church

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.

 

 

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6 comments

  • FRM

    Enough, SNAP – we've had ENOUGH hearing from you people. These false allegations were proven unfounded, and this GOOD and HONORABLE man's good name is being dragged through the mud. Those of us who have known Father Mike for years always knew he would be cleared of these charges, and it is devastating to think what these past few months have been like for him. Remember who is the victim in this situation, and there should be consequences for those that slander.

  • hsmom

    Snapjudy…..your comment is borderline slanderous…and you SURE know how to keep it on your side of the border. Anyone who has ever injured a child should be kept away from children, on that point we agree. SNAP goes over the line and ALWAYS takes the allegedly abused side, and rarely if ever have I seen SNAP take a balanced approach and weigh the information and facts of the case before coming out like raging Nazi's against the accused. There are people who make things up, there are people who do bad things….we should all investigate (with a NEUTRAL position) to ensure that we know who is and who is not telling the truth. In this case, there was no compelling evidence that the charges were founded.

    • Shane

      Same question for you: would you willingly leave your child alone with this reverend? Be as honest with yourself as you can be. I know it's easy to give a convenient response on a message board, especially if one happens to be a shill.

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