National News

 U.S. Headlines



Jesuits pay $185,000 to student who says priest molested him

By PATRICIA RICE - St. Louis Post-Dispatch
October 23, 2003

The Missouri Province of the Jesuits has paid a $185,000 settlement to a former
St. Louis University High School student who alleges he was molested in the
1970s by a now-retired Jesuit priest.

Tom Kevin O'Connor, 49, who now lives in Charlottesville, Va., is the 13th man
to bring credible allegations of sexual abuse against the Rev. John J. "Jack"
Campbell, now 82, a Jesuit official acknowledged Wednesday.

O'Connor is the first one to go public with his accusations.

Campbell, who lives under supervision in a Jesuit retirement center in Denver,
could not be reached for comment. Campbell has neither admitted nor denied the
allegations, but said he does not remember any incidents, said the Rev. Timothy
McMahon, provincial of the Missouri Province of the Jesuits.

Campbell was in residence at the high school campus, but was not teaching at
the school when O'Connor was enrolled there, Jesuit officials said. Campbell
often led retreats at area high schools and the White House Jesuit Retreat
Center in south St. Louis County

O'Connor alleged that for two or three years before and after his
graduation from the high school in 1972, Campbell sexually molested him "as
therapy" during counseling appointments in the rectory of St. Francis Xavier
(College) Church at Grand and Lindell boulevards.

The allegations against Campbell and the recent settlement with O'Connor were
made public Wednesday by the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, an
advocacy group. The group held a news conference on the sidewalk outside the
high school, on Oakland Avenue across from Forest Park.

Including the latest payment two weeks ago to O'Connor and his lawyer, Patrick
Noaker, of St. Paul, Minn., about $575,000 in settlements and doctors' bills
have been paid to victims of Campbell's alleged abuse over the last 14 years, a
spokesman for the Jesuits said Wednesday.

Campbell was removed from public ministry in 1989 and lost his priestly
faculties, including the ability to say Mass, said McMahon, who addressed
reporters inside the high school minutes after the SNAP event.

Seven times during the news conference, once with his voice breaking, McMahon
apologized on behalf of the Jesuits and as an alumnus of the high school for
the broken trust, harm and ensuing anger that O'Connor and others experienced.

As part of the settlement, both McMahon and the Rev. Paul Sheridan, president
of the high school, also had to write letters of apology to O'Connor.

Sheridan on Wednesday called an assembly of the school's 1,054 students in the
gym to tell them about O'Connor's allegation. "They were very sober; everyone
is hurting today," Sheridan said. Counseling will be available to the student
body, he said.

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests