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.

Lecheler also told Roy that, sometime in the late 1970s, Colleary mentioned that he was going to have to take a lie-detector test regarding accusations of child molestation. Not to worry, he allegedly told her, "there are ways of getting around that."

Colleary's attorney refused to discuss Lecheler's allegations last week.

As of late last week, Roy says, Lecheler also had not been contacted by the Diocese seeking more information. Lecheler hadn't returned my calls by press time.

In fact, the Diocese's only response of any scope was a threat to the media about publishing information from the 1999 St. Luke's letters.

"The questions being presented to the diocese are the result of egregious violations of Father Colleary's privacy rights by certain media outlets," read a two-page response fax to local media outlets.

Of course, there has been no such diocesan huffiness about Father Colleary's swelling list of "egregious violations" of the sacred priest/parishioner relationship.

The faxed threat, by the way, was about as long as the two-page request I made to O'Brien three weeks ago asking him to please quantify the success of the Diocese's sexual misconduct policy. I received a smug little note back saying the Diocese has a 10-year-old policy of not talking to New Times. The policy dates back to when this paper exposed the first wave of molesting Phoenix priests and O'Brien cover-ups in 1989.

Sources tell me church attorneys threatened to sue the Republic for invasion of privacy.

I've been waiting anxiously for a similar call from Bishop O'Brien. Maybe I could finally get him to answer a question or two between threats.

Two weeks ago, I learned from sources within the Maricopa County Attorney's Office that O'Brien's attorneys also threatened to sue them because of a quote I published from an attorney there who called O'Brien an "obstructionist."

You see the pattern here. Somebody tells the truth. The bishop tells the person to shut up or they'll be sued.

Now, though, it appears O'Brien and Colleary will be the ones facing lawyers.

County Attorney Rick Romley, to his credit, announced last Thursday that he will begin a "preliminary inquiry" to determine if the Diocese of Phoenix has properly disclosed incidences of sexual misconduct by priests.

The Kennedys are scheduled to meet with deputy county attorneys this week.

I'm going to make some predictions here:

Father Patrick Colleary will face criminal charges based on the testimony of Doris Kennedy's son regarding incidences in the sacristy in Holy Spirit church.

Lawsuits will follow regarding Colleary as well as several other priests.

Attorneys in these cases will demand, and receive, the Diocese's secret files on priest sexual misconduct that the Diocese must maintain under canonical law.

The files will be damning. Why else would O'Brien act so despicably in hiding them?

As in other dioceses, parishioners will be forced to pay out millions more in the lawsuits because of the obstructionist behavior of their bishop. In the end, O'Brien's disgusting behavior now and in the past will end up draining millions from Catholic services that help so many people in the Valley.

If Bishop O'Brien's attorneys were as savvy as they are amoral, they'd know it's critical that their boss immediately stops playing these games.

O'Brien must immediately turn over everything the Diocese knows about Patrick Colleary's litany of sexual misconduct. And O'Brien must immediately release for review by the county attorney all of the Diocese's sexual misconduct files.

If he refuses, O'Brien should face the prospect of sharing a room with Father Colleary at Madison Street Jail.

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