6 counts dropped for former bishop, sex abuse charges remain

6 counts dropped for former bishop, sex abuse charges remain

Retired Bishop Thomas O'Brien stands accused of molesting a boy 35 years ago. Six other charges against him have been dropped, but the charge of sexual abuse remains. O'Brien had been the bishop of Phoenix for 21 years, but resigned after the diocese became embroiled in the sex abuse scandal and after he was arrested for a hit-and-run death of a pedestrian.

PHOENIX, Arizona — A few charges have been dropped against a former Arizona Roman Catholic bishop, but the former church official still faces sexual misconduct charges for allegations that he molested a young boy 35 years ago.

The Arizona Republic reported http://bit.ly/2wHVHSR Friday that a Maricopa County Superior Court judge dismissed counts of public nuisance, fraud, fiduciary fraud and negligent infliction of emotional distress, leaving eight of the original 14 counts.

Retired Bishop Thomas O’Brien is accused of sexually abusing a boy on several occasions at parishes in Phoenix and Goodyear from 1977 to 1982. The Diocese of Phoenix says O’Brien denies the allegation.

O’Brien led the diocese in Phoenix as it became embroiled in a global scandal that rocked the Catholic church after allegations surfaced in Boston about pedophile priests going unpunished.

The bishop acknowledged in a 2003 immunity deal that he let church employees accused of sex abuse continue to have contact with children. Weeks after the deal, O’Brien resigned as bishop after he was arrested in the hit-and-run death of a pedestrian.

O’Brien, who served as Phoenix’s bishop for 21 years, resigned in June 2003 after being accused of striking and killing 43-year-old Jim Reed with his car.

The bishop didn’t stop to help Reed or report the accident to police but told investigators that he didn’t realize he had hit a person.

He said he thought he had hit a dog or cat or that someone had thrown a rock at his car. Prosecutors said O’Brien tried to have his windshield fixed.

He was sentenced to probation and 1,000 hours of community service after being convicted of leaving the scene of a fatal accident.

 

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