O'Connell Family Sues Church

By Eric Quade
Barron News-Shield [Wisconsin]
August 10, 2006

A civil lawsuit filed yesterday against close to 200 bishops demands the Catholic Church divulge the names and addresses of alleged child molesters within its ranks.

The family of the late Daniel O'Connell, former owner of the Hudson funeral home where he and Barron native James Ellison where fatally shot, alleges the bishops are withholding information regarding the whereabouts of clergy suspected of sexual abuses.

The O'Connell and Ellison families met with church officials earlier this year and discussed ways to keep sexually abusive individuals out of the priesthood.

The families had presented a five-point plan to promote child safety, which included fully cooperating with inquires pertaining to sex crimes and any related cover-ups in the church, acknowledging mistakes publicly, creating a system capable of punishing those responsible for negligently ordaining "troubled" seminarians, encouraging church officials to help draft laws that would protect vulnerable persons from abuse and improving communication between bishops and church members who live in areas where clergy sex offenders have served.

The O'Connells reportedly filed the recent civil suit because they felt the bishops weren't fully cooperating with efforts to inform the public about alleged sex offenders among clergy.

Authorities believe O'Connell might have confronted Father Ryan Erickson of St. Patrick's Church in Hudson about the priest's alleged child molestation and/or providing alcohol to minors before O'Connell and Ellison were killed. A St. Croix County judge ruled that Erickson likely pulled the trigger in those deaths.


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