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Spotlight Report

Former bishop named in Mo. suit

By Matt Carroll, Globe Staff, 3/19/2002

The former bishop of West Palm Beach, Fla., who resigned 11 days ago after he admitted fondling a teenage boy in the 1970s, yesterday was sued for abusing another youth in Missouri.

The suit, filed by a 47-year-old man who has not revealed his identity, was filed against the Rev. Anthony J. O'Connell, 63, whose resignation as bishop was officially accepted last week by the pope.

The man claimed that O'Connell sexually abused him five times between 1970 and 1971 while he was attending St. Thomas Aquinas High School Seminary in Hannibal, Mo., said Jeffrey R. Anderson, the man's attorney. The man said the youth was about 15 when the abuse began.

''This was a really troubled kid'' with family problems who went to O'Connell for counseling, said Anderson. ''O'Connell sexualized the relationship.''

Although O'Connell never touched the boy, according to the suit, he made the boy fondle himself while O'Connell watched, including in the sacristy.

At the time, O'Connell was the seminary's director for vocations, spirituality, and counseling.

O'Connell resigned from his post in Florida after the St. Louis Post-Dispatch published a story saying O'Connell had abused a seminarian named Christopher Dixon in 1977.

Attempts to locate O'Connell for comment were unsuccessful.

Matt Carroll can be reached at

This story ran on page A12 of the Boston Globe on 3/19/2002.
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