Assignment Record – Bishop Anthony Joseph O'Connell
In 1991 a diocesan youth minister told Jefferson City Bishop McAulliffe that boys were disclosing to her that they were being sexually abused by O'Connell and other priests of the diocese. The youth minister was fired. In 1994 a young man told Kansas City bishop Boland that O'Connell had molested him as a boy St. Thomas. Boland is said to have responded, "We like to keep these things quiet". The accuser soon started to receive secret monthly payments from O'Connell. The Jefferson City diocese settled with one accuser in a "secret agreement" in 1996. This man went public with his accusation in March 2002. O'Connell acknowledged the abuse and resigned a few days later. By 2004 at least nine former St. Thomas seminary students had come forward alleging sexual abuse by O'Connell. Some of the men said they suspected there were dozens of others. Some said the abuse that began while they were boys at St. Thomas, between the 1960s and 1980s, continued into their early adulthoods, including while O'Connell was a bishop.
In June 1988 O'Connell was appointed first bishop of Knoxville, TN. In Nov. 1998 he was appointed bishop of Palm Beach, FL, replacing Bishop Symons, who resigned after admitting to molesting boys. After his 2002 resignation, O'Connell went to live at a Trappist Monastery in South Carolina. He is said to have been free to travel to and from his native Ireland. O'Connell died May 4, 2012.
Jefferson City bishop was Joseph Mary Marling, C.PP.S (1956-1969), followed by Michael Francis McAuliffe (1969-1997)
|1988||St. Thomas Aquinas Preparatory Seminary||
• In an April 2002 lawsuit, a former St. Thomas student accused O'Connell of having sexually abused him at the seminary beginning in 1968, when the accuser was 15 years old, and continuing for years. O'Connell was the boy's spiritual advisor.
• In March 2002 a man publicly accused O'Connell of having sexually abused him when he was a St. Thomas student in the 1970s, and O'Connell was Rector. The man said he went to O'Connell when he was a ninth-grader for counseling about sexual abuse he had suffered by another priest. He said O'Connell proceeded to sexually abuse him, and that the abuse continued through 12th grade.
• Two more former St. Thomas students came forward in the Spring of 2002 with accusations that O'Connell had sexually abused them during their time at the high school seminary.
• In 1991 a youth minister in the Jefferson City diocese alerted diocesan officials that youth were confiding to her that they had been sexually abused by some priests of the diocese. O'Connell and two other priests at St. Thomas Aquinas were named as perpetrators.
• By 2004 at least nine men had accused O'Connell of sexually abusing them when they were boys. Some of them said the abuse started when they were teenagers and continued into their adult years, including while O'Connell was a bishop. They described O'Connell as "a witty, entertaining and commanding man", with a dominating personality.
• In 2004, five of the men who alleged they were sexually abused by O'Connell as St. Thomas students wrote letters to other former students encouraging them to come forward with their own stories of abuse or eyewitness accounts of others' abuse at the seminary. One of the men said he had personally spoken with ten victims of O'Connell. The men said they suspected there were dozens of O'Connell victims, still suffering in silence.
|MO||Teacher; Spiritual Director; Dean of Students; Rector 1970-1988||
This was a high school seminary with 91-40 students.
O'Connell's accusers said O'Connell would have them tell him their sexual fantasies during individual counseling sessions, and to write them down in detail so he could read them. O'Connell's accusers said the sessions lead to "more serious sexual situations."
The former youth minister said in 2004 that she was concerned that the seminary "was a melting pot that led to abuse and abusers coming out of there."
St. Thomas closed in May 2002.
|1969||1988||Diocesan Vocations Director||Jefferson City||MO|
|1970||1988||Diocesan Personnel Board||Jefferson City||MO|
|Priests' Senate||Jefferson City||MO||O'Connell was appointed Bishop of Knoxville June 7, 1988, and installed Sept. 8, 1988.|
Anthony Joseph O'Connell was Knoxville bishop (1988-1998)
O'Connell was appointed Bishop of Palm Beach Nov. 6, 1998. He replaced Bishop Symons, who resigned afer admitting he had molested five boys.
In 1991, a few months after she brought her concerns to diocesan officials that kids were being abused by diocesan priests, including O'Connell, the Jefferson City youth minister was fired. Jefferson City bishop at the time was Michael F. McAuliffe.
One of O'Connell's accusers said that in 1994 he told Kansas City bishop Raymond J. Boland about the abuse, and Boland 's response was "We like to keep these things quiet." O'Connell's accuser said that he soon started to receive monthly payments from O'Connell. Other accusers quietly received payments from O'Connell as well.
O'Connell's March 2002 accuser received a settlement from the Jefferson City diocese in 1996, in a "secret agreement". O'Connell was one of three priests who had been accused by the former St. Thomas student.
Anthony Joseph O'Connell was Palm Beach bishop (1998-2002)
|2002||Palm Beach||FL||Bishop||O'Connell resigned as Palm Beach bishop March 8, 2002, after admitting to having sexually abused a former high school seminary student in the 1970s. O'Connell stated at the time of his resignation that "there may be one other person of a somewhat similar situation."|
|2002||2012||Mepkin Abbey||Moncks Corner||SC||
O'Connell died May 4, 2012
Sources: Official Catholic Directory (New York: P.J. Kenedy and Sons, 1964-2003)
• Ex-seminarian's charges lead to removal of priest, By Dawn Fallik, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 8, 2002