Blame Game

Each time Bishop Thomas O'Brien gets caught lying about a problem priest, he blames someone else. His litany of denials, stonewalls and threats will undo him.

As most bishops nationwide begin digging themselves out from the avalanche of priest sex scandals, Bishop Thomas O'Brien seems intent on digging himself deeper.

O'Brien's latest outrage of many stems from a column I wrote three weeks ago about two women's accusations of sexual misconduct by Father Patrick Colleary, an associate pastor at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Scottsdale.

After the column appeared, Colleary admitted to one of the allegations, that he fathered a child in the late 1970s, and denied the other, that he molested an 11-year-old boy around the same time. And Bishop O'Brien backed him up. Colleary remains a priest at the church.

Rand Carlson

Last week, the Arizona Republic received a copy of a 1999 letter in which one of Colleary's therapists from St. Luke's Institute in Maryland recommended to the Diocese that: "Given the number and nature of complaints over the years [against Colleary], it is reasonable to anticipate that history will be repeated in some way."

The letter was a bombshell.

The St Luke's warning substantiates the charges first aired here that not only did Father Colleary father a child, but that the priest was also charged with other sexually aberrant behavior.

The St Luke's letter also proved the bishop was lying when, following the two initial allegations in this column, he and diocesan officials gave assurances to parishioners at Our Lady of Perpetual Help that there was never any indication that Colleary was a threat to women and children.

Keep your eye on the St. Luke's line: "Given the number and nature of complaints."

In my initial column, I wrote about Sharon Roy, with whom Colleary fathered a child in 1978, and Doris Kennedy, who says her 11-year-old son was molested by Colleary in 1979.

In the column, Roy stated that Colleary had told her about other allegations against him. One case, she says, involved accusations of child molestation from a mother in Tempe.

Did Diocese officials contact Roy after the column appeared to investigate what she knew about Colleary? Did they ask about this other case in Tempe?

"Are you kidding?" Roy said to me last Friday.

The only call Roy received following her disclosures was from an anonymous man who told her "you better watch your back."

Doris Kennedy of Chandler told the story of her 15-year-old son walking in on Colleary as he was molesting her 11-year-old son, and how she was stonewalled by O'Brien when she went to report the molestation. She said her son, now in his mid-30s, has just begun remembering other incidences in which Colleary allegedly fondled him in the sacristy of Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Tempe.

Colleary now says he passed a polygraph test regarding the alleged molestation in the Kennedy home. But, conveniently, Colleary says he has no proof the polygraph was ever taken.

Take just a second here.

You're a priest accused of pedophilia. You claim a lie-detector test proved you innocent. And you didn't keep the paperwork that cleared you?

Colleary admits there was an investigation. The investigation found no wrongdoing, he says.

Doris Kennedy scoffs at calling the police or Diocese response to her accusations an "investigation."

Nobody in her family was interviewed by police or Diocese officials, she says.

This is remarkable.

A mother goes to the bishop and goes to the police charging a priest with molesting her son. An alleged investigation clears the priest without anyone interviewing the victim or the eyewitness. And the priest does not have the polygraph he says he passed.

Nor can I find a way to confirm that any investigation, even a shoddy one, took place. Police in Tempe, the location of the church, and police in Chandler, where the Kennedys live, have no record of the investigation or polygraph test.

It may have been purged, they say.

Or, as they say in Latin America, maybe it long ago was disappeared.

Of course, the Diocese won't release anything it has.

And the Diocese certainly didn't look for more.

Doris Kennedy says the Diocese never contacted her for more information after this column revealed the appalling charges against Father Colleary. Nor did the bishop contact Kennedy or Roy when the therapists at St. Luke's warned the Diocese that there were multiple complaints. Nor did the bishop contact Kennedy or Roy once Roy pointed out that Father Colleary himself had told her of multiple allegations.

"They don't want to hear any more than what they've already heard," says Kennedy, who never has been contacted by diocesan officials.

However, since their stories broke, Doris Kennedy and Sharon Roy have been contacted by Kathleen McCabe Lecheler, who says she was seduced by Colleary in the mid-1970s when she was 17 after she went to him seeking counseling for a "problem of a sexual nature."

Lecheler told Roy she also remembers Colleary talking about other sexual misdeeds. In one case, Lecheler told Roy, Colleary told her that he had lent his car to a girl he had impregnated so she could drive to get an abortion. Lecheler told Kennedy she remembers that Colleary said he had another girlfriend in Casa Grande.

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