Bishop Saltarelli of Diocese of Wilmington Released from Non-Monetary Molestation Lawsuit
For More Information: Tom O’Connell Jr. of Madison, WI 608-798-1444 or 608-347-5254
A family whose relative was murdered by a priest and who has filed a non-monetary, first of it’s kind lawsuit against the USCCB and all bishops, is releasing Delaware’s Catholic bishop from the suit.
In August, 2006, the O’Connell family of Hudson Wisconsin filed a unique lawsuit against all US bishops seeking a non-monetary injunction that would force them to reveal the names of all proven, admitted and credibly accused abusive priests. Several weeks ago, the Diocese of Wilmington (Delaware) Bishop Michael Saltarelli was served with that suit.
The family is now writing Saltarelli to advise him he will be dropped as a defendant due to the actions of Saltarelli on recently disclosed names of 20 pedophile priests in Delaware.
Dan O’Connell was murdered, along with a co-worker, James Ellison, in February, 2002 by a Hudson, WI priest who was suspected by O’Connell of molesting children. After being questioned by police, the cleric, Fr. Ryan Erickson, took his own life in December, 2004. Later investigations showed that church officials had repeated warnings about abusive and dangerous behavior by Erickson, but ordained, hired, and transferred him to various parishes in the Superior, WI Diocese. In response to those disclosures and “to make something good come from these brutal murders and protect children”, the O’Connell family has been pushing US bishops to disclose the names of pedophile priests. After months of effort, the family filed a non-monetary lawsuit in state court seeking to compel church authorities to provide those names.
Saltarelli is the first bishop to take this action since the O’Connells suit was filed.
The O’Connell’s have sent a letter to Saltarelli stating their gratitude for the releasing of the names and have advised their attorneys to remove his name from the lawsuit. “Our family filed the lawsuit seeking to prevent clergy sex abuse by forcing the church hierarchy to disclose the names of all proven, admitted and credibly accused abusive priests,” the O’Connell’s letter says. “We are glad that you see the value in letting the public know about these dangerous men. We hope that other bishops will follow you example and release names within their own dioceses”.
According to the O’Connell family, the problems of clergy abuse must be addressed proactively by the Catholic Church. Each bishop was named in the lawsuit as each has the responsibility and obligation, as a member of the USCCB, to establish the rules and policies that govern the US Catholic Church. The family states, “The vows taken in priesthood should reflect doing what is right to protect children and support victims”.
The O’Connell family is represented by St. Paul Minnesota attorney Jeff Anderson, 651 227 9990, 612-817-8665 cell