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Archive for Saturday, July 24, 2004

Former priest faces another abuse suit

July 24, 2004

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— A former Kansas City priest is the target of another civil lawsuit alleging that he molested two young boys in the 1980s.

Two Independence, Mo., men filed the lawsuit Thursday against Thomas J. O'Brien, alleging that he abused them on a summer trip in 1982. The lawsuit also names the Roman Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Bishop Raymond J. Boland and Vicar General Patrick Rush.

O'Brien, who retired from the priesthood in 2002, already faces three lawsuits in Jackson County, each alleging that he abused boys.

Darren Wahwassuck, 36, of Independence, said that he and a childhood friend filed the lawsuit because the church did not seem to be taking the allegations seriously. The friend decided to remain anonymous, Wahwassuck said.

Wahwassuck knew O'Brien while the priest served at Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Independence in 1982 and 1983.

O'Brien's attorney, Gerald F. McGonagle, said O'Brien "categorically and strongly" denied the allegations.

In a written statement, the diocese noted that church officials removed O'Brien from his assignment and required him to undergo treatment after a complaint was filed against him in September 1983.

It said the church had received other complaints.

"No one has accused O'Brien of misconduct that occurred after he returned from treatment in 1984," the statement said.

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