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Finally, a priest is going to jail (hopefully!)... too bad it took someone's life to make it happen. I really wish they would fry some of the parish perverts getting busted lately. :evil:

-Mike

Phoenix bishop arrested in a fatal hit-and-run accident
By Beth Defalco, Associated Press, 6/16/2003 22:29

PHOENIX (AP) The Roman Catholic bishop of Phoenix was arrested Monday in a deadly hit-and-run accident after police traced a license plate number to his car and found the windshield caved in.

Bishop Thomas O'Brien, 67, was jailed Monday night. Police said he would be booked on a charge of leaving the scene of a fatal accident.

O'Brien's attorney, Jordan Green, declined to comment on the arrest.

O'Brien made headlines earlier this month when it was announced that he relinquished some of his authority in an unprecedented agreement with prosecutors that spared him from indictment on obstruction charges for protecting child-molesting priests.

In the hit-and-run case Saturday night, 43-year-old Jim Reed died after he was struck by two cars while walking across a street in the middle of the block. Both cars drove off.

The bishop ''does admit that he was driving the vehicle and in the area at the time,'' said Sgt. Laurie Williams.

Witnesses gave police a partial license plate number from the first car, which led investigators to the diocese, Williams said. The diocese told the police that it was O'Brien's car, she said.

Police went to the bishop's home with a search warrant and examined the car. The tan Buick's windshield was caved in on the passenger's side, Williams said. The warrant called for any evidence of blood, hair or glass samples, Williams said.

Williams said O'Brien had told police he was returning home after a Mass on Saturday night. Police had no information on the second car.

O'Brien was hospitalized briefly after his arrest. Neither a hospital spokeswoman nor O'Brien's attorney would comment on why he was taken to the hospital.

Diocese spokesman Jose Robles would only say the bishop ''was very exhausted.''

In a statement, Monsignor Richard Moyer, the diocese's chief of staff, said the diocese would cooperate with the investigation.

''I sincerely regret reports I have received about Bishop O'Brien being involved in a fatal accident,'' Moyer said. ''The sympathy of all of us in the Diocese of Phoenix as well as our prayerful support goes out to the victim's family.''

The Rev. Russell Roide, a priest at St. Francis Xavier Church in Phoenix, said he was shocked by the arrest. ''I feel like I've been kicked in the stomach,'' he said.

A parishioner at St. Francis Xavier, Larry Hillmert, said he would give O'Brien the benefit of the doubt.

''I feel sad for him because he's been under a great deal of pressure,'' said Hillmert. ''If it looked like he panicked and made a wrong decision, he should be held accountable. We should treat the bishop like everyone else.''

Some U.S. Catholic bishops have previously been arrested during political protests. And in 1985, the former president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Archbishop John R. Roach of St. Paul and Minneapolis, pleaded guilty to drunk driving and was sentenced to 38 hours in jail, a fine of $445 and ongoing substance abuse treatment. He did not resign as archbishop over the incident and served another decade.

Monsignor Francis Maniscalco, spokesman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, declined to comment on O'Brien's arrest.

O'Brien has been the spiritual leader of 430,000 Catholics in Arizona since 1981.

In the agreement with prosecutors announced earlier this month, O'Brien admitted that he allowed priests to work with minors after he knew of sexual misconduct allegations against them and that he transferred them to ministries without telling their new supervisors.

Under the deal, O'Brien agreed among other things to appoint the church equivalent of a chief of staff to supervise the enforcement of the church's sexual misconduct policies.

Sharon Roy, a leader in Phoenix's chapter of the Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests, said O'Brien's resignation is past due.

''He's got a pattern of covering up and hiding things and getting away with it, but I don't think that's going to happen this time,'' Roy said.
 
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