Bishop Anthony J. O’Connell
Bishop Anthony J. O’Connell at
St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary
(STAS) in Hannibal requested
an independent investigation
of the scandal that forced the
closing of the 45-year-old
college prep boarding school
for young boys who aspired to
the priesthood. You never
responded to our appeal nor
did you issue any form of apology
or explanation to O’Connell’s
victims, their parents, or their
loved ones. Instead you shuttered
the building in May 2002 and sold
the property for a reported $240,000.
Msgr. Gregory L. Higley
invulnerable to regret. One would expect
the 2003 death of the Rev. Robert Chenoweth due to HIV/AIDS would cause you to consider your effort to politicize the private lives of American citizens. The dichotomy of civil rights versus the protection of child predators is sobering consideration in relation to the number of gay priests working for you.
as a role model for the priesthood, is a
well-documented example (and forthcoming information will reveal). One would expect even further restraint considering the experiences of your vicar general, Msgr. Gregory L. Higley, during his college career at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio, and his years of graduate study at the National Seminary of the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
Msgr. David D. Cox, 1984
a student at Kenrick during my own
10-year affiliation with the diocese.
You showed up on a Friday night for
a small party organized by my good
friend, Mike Campbell. You gave him
a very expensive bottle of Scotch.
in St. Louis at the time. You also may be
aware that Campbell was removed from the priesthood as a result of his predation and sexual involvement with young boys.
Rev. Hugh Behan
The Anchor, 1967
of course, that child molestation cannot
be indexed or connected to sexual
orientation in any way. Otherwise we
would not have to witness the childhood
sexual abuse of public figures like
MacKenzie Phillips or the corruption
of children by film director Roman
Polanski . . . or one your own
high-profile priests, the Rev. Hugh F.
Behan (The Anchor 1967, St. Thomas
yearbook), the former editor of the
Catholic Missourian, who was recruited
to the diocese from Ireland.
1999, you publicly indicated that he was
taking a leave of absence without providing details. Sister Ethel-Marie Biri, SSND, your chancellor at the time, said that Behan had been through several treatment programs around the country after various allegations. But he was not removed until an 18-year-old woman reported her sexual assault. He also is known to have molested a 10-year-old girl, a case investigated by the Osage County Sheriff’s Department.
Depletes Staff by 20 Percent
Research of public records indicates that, at minimum, 20 percent of diocesan priests working in Jefferson City during last 20 years have been identified publicly as pedophiles and/or sexual perpetrators. And that number, in fact, may be as much as 33 percent or more of total number of your priest roster.
Rev. Frank “Moochie” Westhoff
crimes and the serial predation of
young boys and girls by other priests
affiliated with the diocese is commentary enough on your character as a clergyman. Your unwillingness to disclose the actions of O’Connell and other pedophile priests in the diocese bears all the characteristics of criminal accomplice. One can only wonder at the constant flow of ignominy and what the new year will continue to bring to our attention as the situation in Germany and the role that Benedict XVI has played since his days as Joseph
Cardinal Ratzinger, archbishop of Munich.
we intend to disclose this information in a timely fashion.
Rev. Frank “Moochie” Westhoff (left page, top, right; center page, top; and right
page, bottom, left). Source (left to right): The Anchor, 1980, p. 34, 1982, The
Voice, Spring 2000, p.3; and The Anchor, 1980, p.42.
14 in the sacristy of St. Patrick Church, Decatur, Ill.,
in early June, 1966.
(Westhoff was still working for the Jefferson City
diocese). I was strongly encouraged by the chairperson
of the Diocesan Review Board to meet with the Board
formally and in person.”
to Sacred Heart School of Theology in Hales Corner, Wisc., where
he met O’Connell. As vocation director for the diocese and a powerful member of the so-called Priest Personnel Board (1977-1987), O’Connell finessed Westhoff’s transfer to the Jefferson City diocese in about 1986. Another member of the personnel board at that time was the Rev. John H. Fischer, who was removed in 1993 when the extent of predatory behavior was disclosed in a civil suit filed by a STAS graduate and ordained priest.
And Kelly continues:
Board . . . . The Board accepted my reporting of fact,
but according to Bishop Lucas’s letter to me, ‘the Board
could not reach a consensus as to whether or not sexual
abuse had occurred.’ Westhoff was returned to active
ministry after being placed on administrative leave while
my allegations were investigated.”
Kevin W. Vann, who now leads the
diocese of Fort Worth, Texas. Vann,
as the prefect for priests for Springfield,
had access to all personnel records late
in Westhoff’s career. He chose to ignore
the allegations and transgressions thereby
volunteering to serve as one of Westhoff’s
last accomplices. Kevin and I were classmates at Kenrick.
Westhoff: A Polished Veneer of Respectability
Jefferson City priests and seminarians referred to Westhoff affectionately as “Moochie.” And because he had powerful,
well-connected friends, Westhoff was able to move from Springfield to Onamia to Hales Corner to Jefferson City with relative ease:
the veneer of his reputation intact.
The first historical documentation of his affiliation with the diocese to date is a full-page pictorial feature on page 42 of the 1982 St. Thomas Aquinas yearbook, The Anchor. Bishop McAuliffe attended the seminary’s annual Christmas banquet on 13 December 1982. Westhoff was seated at the head table with McAuliffe and “roasted” by O’Connell as a man who possessed
a “bag of wisdom.
Rev. Dylan Schrader,
a naive boy tricked
by Frank Westhoff.
Although Westhoff retired 2003, neither he
nor his status is referenced in the 2003-2004
Jefferson City Diocesan Directory with other
retired priests. No forwarding address or
other contact information was published
These omissions are significant and they appear
to be deliberate.
Further evidence of collusion and deception is found in the recorded history of St. Thomas. For example, Page Three of the Spring 2002 issue of The Voice newsletter celebrates Westhoff as an Eucharistic scholar.
The Voice 2002 issue of the St. Thomas newsletter (along with The Anchor 1982) reveals that the trick was played on the unsuspecting students more than once. Dylan Schrader, who is to be ordained a priest in May, was a STAS junior at the time he wrote this naive observation about Westhoff and his merit as role model for young boys:
Courageous Priest Exposes Westhoff
monumental damage has already been done to the
Church and its mission by the incessant flow of stories
of clerical abuse. Further, I am determined to do
whatever I can to help [the victim and his family]
with this situation. I cannot abide the thought of
another young man destroying himself because of
things that were done to him by an evil priest.
euphemism for cleaning up all the abuse cases
that have landed in the bishop’s lap, thanks to
the [St. Thomas Seminary] scandal and the dozen
or so priests who have been removed from
‘active service’ in its wake.”