Chicago, IL (PRWEB) December 11, 2013
This week’s sexual abuse allegation against Chicago-area pastor Michael W. O’Connell has raised a number of questions about the Archdiocese of Chicago’s standing sexual misconduct response, as well as about the general rights of clergy sex abuse survivors in Illinois (1).
According to the Chicago Tribune, Rev. O’Connell has left the Lakeview Roman Catholic parish and voluntarily stepped away from day-to-day duties as pastor after a single allegation of sexual misconduct was reported to the Archdiocese of Chicago. The case will be investigated by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, the Cook County State's Attorney's office, and the Archdiocesan Office for Child Abuse Investigations and Review (2).
Chicago’s Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests told reporters that a single adult male victim stated that he was abused by O’Connell on multiple occasions at Our Lady of the Woods parish in Orland Park when he was an adolescent (3). The pastor worked at that religious center from 1997 to 2012. He also served at St. Michael Parish in Orland Park from his ordainment in 1983 until 1989, and at the Church of St. Mary in Lake Forest from 1989 until 1993 (2).
The Chicago Sun-Times reported that Survivors Network President Barbara Blaine believed that the Archdiocese of Chicago should immediately suspend the priest and make his whereabouts public (1). Cardinal Francis George responded to the sexual abuse allegations by stating that O’Connell’s voluntary departure isn’t an admission of guilt—and that he is stepping aside out of “pastoral concern for the safety of children” (4).
Attorney Mark Brown, a partner at the Law Offices of Lane & Lane, has two decades of experience handling sexual abuse cases, both as a plaintiff's civil litigation attorney and as a lawyer at Lane & Lane since 2002.
“Whether or not Rev. O’Connell is guilty of sexual misconduct with a minor, this incident is an important reminder to all Chicago families and all survivors of sexual abuse,” Brown said. “Parents should be aware that sexual abuse can take place anywhere, from their children’s church, to their school, to their daycare center. Survivors should know that in many instances in Illinois, they can pursue sexual abuse cases many years after the incidents occurred.”
Brown is currently handling several claims involving sexual abuse of a minor in Illinois. Some of the entities involved include another Chicago Archdiocese clergy case, the Boy Scouts of America, and a Chicago-area Buddhist Temple. To learn more about sexual abuse lawsuits or the above cases, please visit the Lane & Lane website.
(1) Chicago Sun-Times, December 9, 2013 suntimes.com/news/metro/24281642-418/group-archdiocese-mishandling-latest-priest-sex-abuse-allegation.html
(2) Chicago Tribune, December 9, 2013 articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-12-09/news/chi-priest-steps-aside-from-lake-view-parish-after-allegation-of-sexual-misconduct-20131208_1_sexual-misconduct-o-connell-associate-pastor
(3) ABC News, December 10, 2013 abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=news/iteam&id=9354739
(4) Statement Regarding Rev. Michael W. O'Connell, December 9, 2013 archchicago.org/
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