St. Elizabeth's Trial Shocker: Priest Had Live-in Lover Before

Queens Chronicle [Queens NY]
Downloaded May 16, 2003

Father John Thompson, the former pastor at St. Elizabeth's parish in Ozone Park who is on trial for allegedly embezzling thousands of dollars to finance a live-in gay lover at the church, may have done the same thing with a male go-go dancer at a Brooklyn church in the 1980s, according to trial testimony.

Louise O'Connor, Thompson's secretary from 1986-1988 at the Church of the Holy Name in Windsor Terrace, wrote that Thompson knew "damn well that what went on here at Holy Name fell nothing short of what went on at St. Elizabeth's" in a letter that was read to the court last Wednesday, according to published reports last week. O'Connor also stated that Thompson bought her underage son a pair of roller skates, which she said was an attempt to target the boy. "My son was almost a victim of John Thompson," she said.

Thompson has denied allegations of sexual misconduct, but pleaded guilty in October to stealing $95,940 from St. Elizabeth's, which he used to pay credit card bills, lease a luxury automobile, and finance vacations to Mexico and Florida with his lover.

He was ordered to pay the church back, but later filed for bankruptcy and asked for relief on the debt he is repaying the church at the rate of $1,500 per month.

O'Connor wrote the letter last October after she was offended by the fundraising effort of a Manhattan lawyer who was trying to raise money for Thompson's legal fees. She sent the letter to the lawyer, who sent it to Michael Dowd, the attorney representing former St. Elizabeth's School principal Barbara Samide in her sexual harassment case against Thompson.

Another twist to the story is that O'Connor allegedly brought the allegations against Thompson to Holy Name's monsignor, who dismissed them, but Thompson took a leave of absence soon thereafter due to emotional problems. Thompson resigned from St. Elizabeth's in March, citing health reasons.

In her letter, O'Connor said since their days at Holy Name, "I have followed John Thompson's career, wondering when and where it would be when he finally would get caught. He got off easy... John Thompson doesn't need financial help-he just needs help," the reports said.

Samide, 40, was put on leave by the school last September after she brought a $5 million lawsuit against Thompson shortly before the school year began, charging him with harassment and sexual abuse. She also brought the embezzlement charges against him after he allegedly threatened to fire her.

She was paid for all her remaining sick days and still held the title of principal of the school after being put on leave, but was not getting paid. In April, State Supreme Court Judge Duane Alphonse Hart ordered the diocese to reinstate Samide or assign her to another job within the diocese, and to pay her back wages of $30,000.

Samide claims that Thompson struck her with his belt and abused her physically in other ways which she only was able to talk about through therapy. She said she tried to report the incidents to the Diocese of Brooklyn, which did nothing to help her.


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