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Arizona bishop preempts legal censure over sex abuse cover-up

Bishop Thomas J. O'Brien of the Diocese of Phoenix will relinquish some of his responsibilities following an admission that he covered up allegations of sexual abuse by priests for decades.

The Arizona Republic reports that the bishops's admission came in a five-page agreement the bishop signed last month when an attorney threatened to bring him before a grand jury.

In December, Bishop O'Brien revealed that at least 50 priests, former priests and church employees had been accused of sexual misconduct with children in the Phoenix Diocese during the past three decades. He declined to identify many of them and denied their actions were covered up.

The agreement O'Brien signed details 14 concessions by the bishop and the diocese, including a pledge to revamp the church hierarchy in Phoenix and provisions for significant financial settlements.

Central to the agreement is an 82-word statement by O'Brien that he knowingly let priests accused of sexual misconduct work with children and that he transferred clergy accused of abuse without telling their superiors or parishioners about the allegations.

Arizona Republic

Phoenix Bishop Admits Moving Accused Priests (New York Times)
Diocese of Phoenix | Bishop O'Brien | Statement by Bishop Thomas O'Brien (2 Jun 03)

4 Jun 2003