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Former Orland Park Priest Cleared of Sexual Misconduct Allegation

Rev. Michael W. O'Connell served at Our Lady of the Woods Parish from 1997 until 2012, where the misconduct was alleged to have taken place. The Archdiocese has since determined the allegation to be false.

A former Orland Park priest will return to his role as pastor of a Lakeview parish, after findings that allegations of sexual misconduct were unfounded. 

Rev. Michael W. O'Connell in December 2013 was accused of sexual misconduct with a minor while serving locally 20 years ago, and had stepped down from serving at St. Alphonsus Parish in the Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago. Investigations by the Cook County Sheriff's office and Archdiocese of Chicago concluded the allegation was false. 

He will return to ministry on Holy Thursday, April 17. 

"After a careful process always motivated by the need to protect children, did not find reason to suspect that sexual abuse of a minor had occurred and recommended that Fr. O’Connell be returned to active ministry," reads a statement from the Archdiocese of Chicago. 

The alleged sexual misconduct was reported to have happened while O'Connell served at Our Lady of the Woods Parish in Orland Park. He was pastor at Our Lady of the Woods from 1997 until 2012.

The allegation was received by the Archdiocesan Office for Child Abuse Investigations and Review and reported to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) and the Cook County State’s Attorney.  In compliance with the requirements of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, the Archdiocese conducted an investigation of the allegation. The Archdiocese also cooperated with Cook County Sheriff's officers, who conducted an independent investigation.

"The Cardinal joins the bishops and priests and laity of the Archdiocese in welcoming Fr. O’Connell, who has patiently accepted the restrictions on his ministry, to full participation in the life of the Archdiocese as one of our priests in good standing," reads the statement. 

"The abuse of any child is a crime and a sin. The Archdiocese encourages anyone who has been sexually abused by a priest, deacon, religious, lay employee or volunteer, to come forward."

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Dr G April 15, 2014 at 04:48 PM
Think this dude touched Harry Callahan when he used to be an alter boy
anon ymous April 15, 2014 at 05:05 PM
So now if you are against child molestation by priests, you are a lefty Catholic hater. Love it. You can't make this stuff up--at least I can't!
Susan April 15, 2014 at 05:14 PM
Dr G, that was good !!
News, not Spam! April 15, 2014 at 09:53 PM
Nice to see Harry the Racist Is back. I'm sure you know the Southern Poverty Law Center is aware of you. Google them after you get done with your pudding.
Dm April 22, 2014 at 11:15 AM
They got this guy again. His contacts won't get him off this time. He is guilty. I hope he gets it in the end, in state prison

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