First US Catholic Bishop To Be Dismissed From Unique Sex Abuse Case
Tuesday November 21, 3:25 pm ET
Double Murder in Wisconsin Prompts Lawsuit Against All US Bishops
But Delaware's Top Church Official Will Be Removed As Defendant
Saltarelli's Disclosure of Names of Alleged Predator Priests is the Reason
WILMINGTON, De., Nov. 21 /PRNewswire/ -- A family whose relative was murdered by a priest and who has filed a non-monetary, first of its kind lawsuit against the USCCB and all US Catholic bishops is releasing Delaware'sCatholic bishop from the suit.
In August, 2006, the O'Connell family of Hudson, WI, filed a unique lawsuit against all US bishops seeking a non-monetary injunction that wouldf orce them to reveal the names of all proven, admitted, and credibly accused abusive priests. Several weeks ago, Michael Saltarelli, Bishop of Wilmington(DE) was served with that suit.
The family is now writing Saltarelli to advise him he will be dropped as a defendant since Saltarelli recently disclosed names of 20 pedophile priests in his diocese.
Dan O'Connell was murdered, along with a co-worker, in February, 2002 by a Diocese of Superior (WI) priest who was suspected by O'Connell of molesting children. After being questioned by police about the murders in December 2004,the cleric, Fr. Ryan Erickson, took his own life. Later investigations showed that church officials had received repeated warnings about abusive and dangerous behavior by Erickson, but ordained, hired, and transferred him to various parishes in the Diocese anyway. In response to those disclosures and"to make something good come from these brutal murders and protect children,"the O'Connell family has been pushing US bishops to disclose the names of pedophile priests. After months of effort, the family filed a non-monetary lawsuit in Wisconsin state court seeking to compel church authorities to provide the names.
Saltarelli is the first bishop to take this action since the O'Connell's suit was filed.
The O'Connell's have sent a letter to Saltarelli stating their gratitude for the releasing of the names and have advised their attorneys to remove his name from the lawsuit. "Our family filed the lawsuit seeking to prevent clergy sex abuse by forcing the church hierarchy to disclose the names of all proven, admitted and credibly accused abusive priests," the O'Connell's letter says. "We are glad that you see the value in letting the public know about these dangerous men. We hope that other bishops will follow your example and release names within their own dioceses."
According to the O'Connell family, the problems of clergy abuse must be addressed proactively by the Catholic Church. Each bishop was named in the lawsuit as each has the responsibility and obligation, as a member of the USCCB, to establish the rules and policies that govern the US Catholic Church. The family states, "The vows taken in priesthood should reflect doing what is right to protect children and support victims."
The family is represented by Jeffrey R. Anderson of St. Paul, MN. The full text of their letter follows:
Dear Bishop Saltarelli:
We are grateful that you have disclosed the names of alleged predatory
priests in your diocese.
Our family filed the lawsuit seeking to prevent clergy sex abuse by
forcing the church hierarchy to disclose the names of all proven, admitted
and credibly accused abusive priests. We are glad that you see the value
in letting the public know about these dangerous men. We hope that other
bishops will follow you example and release names within their own
We will instruct our attorney to file the necessary papers so that you are
removed as a defendant in our lawsuit.
We also hope that you will do everything in your power to persuade your
colleagues to take the step you have taken, which will help protect the
vulnerable and help heal the wounded.
Tom and Janet O'Connell
Tom and Carol O'Connell.
Mike and Carla O'Connell
Source:Jeff Anderson & Associates
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