Father James O'Neill, former Greensboro priest, admits to sexual abuse in Delaware
Court documents in Delaware that were temporarily unsealed recently have revealed an admission of sexual abuse by a priest who once had served at St. Paul the Apostle Church in Greensboro, according to an Associated Press story.
Father James O'Neill, 71, an Oblate of St. Francis DeSales, was removed after 11 years as pastor of St. Paul the Apostle in 2002 when an allegation of sexual misconduct was made by a Delaware man. The abuse allegation did not involve O'Neill's assignment in North Carolina.
The victim reported that he was sexually abused hundreds of times over a nine-year period, starting when he was 8 years old in 1976, when O'Neill was principal of Salesianum School in Wilmington, Del. The case resulted in settlements with the Oblates, Salesianum and the Diocese of Wilmington.
According to the AP story, the Oblates were in a legal dispute with their insurance carrier over who should pay the settlement and what the insurance policy covered. Their insurer claimed that it was not obligated to cover the Oblates because the victim did not suffer a "bodily injury" during the policy period. In a 2007 deposition the Oblates countered that the victim did suffer bodily injury at the hands of O'Neill.
The admission of wrongdoing on the part of O'Neill and the statement by the Oblates that he had caused the victim harm was originally part of a sealed criminal court document but was briefly included in the judge's ruling on the insurance dispute. According to the AP, the document has since been removed from the court docket.
In addition, according to the documents cited in the AP story, O'Neill's admission of abuse was included in a memo from the Oblates' attorney.
O'Neill was assigned to St. Paul the Apostle in 1991. Prior to that, he was a teacher in Virginia and Delaware.
A 2008 news story from Delaware reported that O'Neill was permanently removed from ministry and that he lives in the Oblates retirement community in Maryland.
The Diocese of Charlotte reports all allegations of sexual misconduct to civil authorities. In addition, sexual abuse awareness training and background checks are required of all employees and volunteers at diocesan schools and churches.
-- David Hains, Director of Communication
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