Msgr. Thomas J. O’Brien, subject of more than two dozen lawsuits alleging sexual abuse of minors, one of which ended in a $10 million settlement against the Kansas City-St. Joseph diocese, died this week according to his lawyer, The Kansas City Star is reporting . He was 87.
Leaders of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, SNAP, are asking Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph to keep funeral services for O’Brien discreet.
Six lawsuits against the diocese involving O’Brien are pending. In July the diocese settled a wrongful-death lawsuit for $2.25 million with the parents of a boy whose family claimed he took his own life 30 years ago because of repeated sexual abuse by O’Brien.
O’Brien, who was ordained a priest in 1950 and served in a number of Kansas City parishes, was principal of a Catholic high school 1961-1968 and superintendent of Catholic schools for the diocese 1969-1971.
He was removed from parish ministry in 1983 after the diocese received a complaint of sexual misconduct by O’Brien involving a teen age boy. He was returned to restricted ministry in 1984, working as part-time hospital chaplain until 2002 when more accusations of sex abuse of minors by him surfaced. He was removed from ministry and ordered not to present himself as a priest in public. He was not defrocked.
“Dozens of boys who were sexually assaulted by Msgr. Thomas O'Brien have suffered enough. And thousands of Catholics who were scandalized and betrayed — by Msgr. O'Brien's crimes and church cover ups — have suffered enough,” David Clohessy, director SNAP, wrote in a message to Finn.
“Please do not add to their pain. Please do not let Msgr. O'Brien be buried in a Catholic cemetery with full honors in a public ceremony," Clohessy wrote. “The least [the diocese] can do now is to avoid rubbing even more salt into their intense wounds.”
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