Family of Murder Victim Sues All US Catholic Bishops

By Jeff Anderson
Yahoo News [St. Paul, Minn.]
August 8, 2006

What:At a news conference, the family of a man who was murdered by a Catholic priest will disclose and discuss the unprecedented civil lawsuit they are filing against nearly 200 bishops and other church officials. Among other reforms, the family seeks to prevent future clergy sex abuse by forcing the church hierarchy to disclose the names of all proven, admitted, and credibly accused abusive priests.

When:TODAY, Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2:45 p.m.

Where: At the law office of Jeff Anderson, First National Bank Bldg., 227 Minnesota Street, in downtown St. Paul.

Who: Six relatives of Dan O'Connell of Hudson, WI (including his parents). O'Connell is one of two Wisconsin men who were shot and killed by Fr. Ryan Erikson.

Details: Last October, a Wisconsin judge ruled that Fr. Ryan Erickson shot and killed Dan O'Connell and James Ellison in February 2002 because O'Connell had confronted Erickson with suspicions that the priest was molesting kids. Erickson hung himself from a fire escape at his Hurley, Wisconsin church after being questioned by police about the murders.

Last November, relatives of the slain men presented a five point reform and prevention plan to a nationwide meeting of Catholic bishops in Washington. Earlier this year, they delivered their plan to US bishops' conference vice president Cardinal Francis George of Chicago. But virtually no change has resulted.

Since Erickson's suicide, evidence has emerged showing that church officials knew Erickson had been accused at least twice of molesting boys, once a full six years before he was ordained in 2000. And more allegations about Erickson's sexual abuse and bizarre behavior, including his fixation with guns and child porn, have surfaced in the past few weeks. No civil lawsuits against the priest or the diocese have been filed.

To protect the vulnerable and heal the wounded, the families want Catholic officials to set up a national registry of abusive clerics and fully disclose the identities of all offending priests and other church personnel. They also want a) bishops to help reform archaic state child sex abuse laws, b) a method to discipline bishops who ordain troubled seminarians and protect offending priests, and c) a face-to-face meeting with the Pope.

(Earlier today, at 9:30 a.m., the group held a similar news conference in downtown Milwaukee WI at the Hyatt Regency Hotel at 333 Kilbourn.)

Contact: Attorney Jeff Anderson of St. Paul 612 817 8665 cell
David Clohessy of St. Louis, SNAP national director 314 566 9790 cell
Peter Isely of Milwaukee, SNAP midwest director 414 429 7259 cell


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