The Diocese of Jefferson City

A Case Study of Clergy Sexual Abuse

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Childproof 20: A Collage of Clergy Abuse, Part 1

Page 20

Dear Bishop Gaydos:

A startling aspect of child molestation is the fact that sexual predators collect trophies, mementos, and keepsakes of their victims.  Television dramas such as Law and Order, Prime Suspect, and Cold Case File chronicle this phenomenon, script upon script:  baseball caps (worn by the child and used as an aphrodisiac); digital photography (a stalker’s cache of surreptitious cell phone close-ups); and dolls (dressed to look like the victim pursued). 

We are witnessing such a display in Kansas City, Mo.  Bishop Robert J. Finn has been hauled before a grand jury to explain his role in protecting a child predator, who collects photographs of children’s genitals.  The Rev. Shawn Ratigan, who has been arrested and charged with possession of child pornography, apparently uses his
cell phone to capture images of pre-pubescent female genitalia.

Venality Composed:  Reminiscent of Brassaï, the incandescent smoke-infused
lighting, the blue flame of the match touching the tip of the stogie, and the
glow of the supplicant student reveal the narcissism of the St. Thomas faculty
in O’Connell’s portrait of Rev. Manus P. Daly and the nature of power
equation that is the key to  abusive behavior: sexual, physical, psychological.
A full-color image of this student appears below. 
Source:  The Anchor, 1981, p. 24.

The trust of a child: there’s nothing like that.  It’s the perfect world.
Bishop Anthony J. O’Connell captured his perfect world at St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary, collecting photographic trophies throughout his tenure there.  He published some of his souvenirs in the high school yearbook, The Anchor.  Today, we are able to review a portion of his public record now that we have access to volumes published between 1969 and 1982.  Perhaps we will have his full record in time when the next seven years become available.
Commedia dellarte:  Prior to his use
of color film,
O’Connell generated
numerous photographs of overt sexual
posturing to satisfy his predilection
for young boys.  We are able to
review these sexualized images of
students unaware of their integrity
compromised; trading childish
antics for crotch shots.  Source: 
The Anchor
, 1975, p. 40.
O’Connell presented himself
as a photographer when he
arrived at St. Thomas in 1964.

With his trusty 33mm Nikon in
hand, he documented the day-
to-day events of seminary life

for nearly 25 years.
In 1967, he built a darkroom and offered lessons in film processing and print-making to interested students.  He used the program
to re-enforce the notion of

As one STAS graduate, who
now lives in Columbia, Mo.,
noted in the wake to pedophile priest scandal:
“Every time that bastard walked into the locker-room with that damned camera around his neck, I wondered how many pictures
he took of us showering and changing clothes.”
We have plenty of evidence of O’Connell’s locker-room lust in
The Anchor.

Passion Play:  We have to wonder if O’Connell is attempting to channel
Baron Wilhelm von Gloeden or Caligula with these images of St. Thomas
students.  Nonetheless, his transition to Kodachrome from T-Max black-
and-white heightened his need for more graphic treatment of his
subjects.  In terms of film history, O’Connell moved from The Egg
and I
to Derek Jarman’s Sebastiane.  Source:  The Anchor, 1984, p. 16
(left), and 1970, p. 73.

Prior to O’Connell’s presence on the St. Thomas faculty, the yearbook was a standard testimonial for each academic year:  a chronicle of class photos, athletic achievement, dramatic arts, and student government.  Most of the photography is posed for posterity – coat and tie, each student frozen in time a perfect representation of the school and candidates ideal for the priesthood.
Golden Boy: O’Connell’s
fascination with the flesh
of youth reached a new
level of lust after 10 years
as rector of St. Thomas. He
transitioned to color film
to whet his appetite, but
did not bother to mask his
true focus.  This student
is lighting Daly’s cigar in
the image above.  Source:
The Anchor, 1981, p. 19
These publication standards began to
falter in the 1969 edition of The Anchor
with O’Connell’s first-published photograph
a semi-clothed high school seminarian.
On page 63 of the 1969 edition of the
St. Thomas annual we see an innocent
collection of seven students, members
of the Graduation Class of 1972 as fresh-
faced first-year students.  Seven freshmen
form a four-tier human pyramid with a
bare-chested youth in gym shorts grinning
for O’Connell’s camera
in what appears
to be the gymnasium weight room.
O’Connell’s handiwork unfolded subtly
in the 1970 edition of The Anchor with
more personalized images of half-naked
On page 20 we see another group
photograph of members of the Class of
1972.  This time a barefoot boy wearing
only shorts sits in a go-cart, flanked by
nine classmates.  As a stand-alone image,
it appears innocent.  But in its totality,
it marks the start of the downward spiral
that destroyed St. Thomas.  The shirtless
youth is the brother of the grinning child
in O’Connell’s 1969 human pyramid. 

The 1970 edition of The Anchor also illustrates O’Connell’s fascination with his subjects as he began in earnest to insert multiple images of semi-clad students throughout the book. The third semi-nude shot appears on page 24 with a caption about mushroom hunting. Images five and six are posed shots, printed on page 72.

Triangulation: O’Connell published his first image of a semi-clothed student in the
1969 edition of The Anchor, p. 63. The partially-clad student is the brother of the
young boy in O’Connell’s second photograph published in the 1970 edition of the
yearbook (below).  O’Connell enjoyed this photograph so much that it was reprinted
in the 1982 yearbook retrospective special section.


In the case of individual student shots, the images are disturbing because the photographs can be cropped to make the student appear to be completely naked.  Yours truly is a beneficiary to O’Connell’s largesse
and attention in this matter as the seventh picture on page 73 of the
1970 yearbook. 

The eighth, and final, photograph of semi-naked students is a sneer behind the view finder. O’Connell has positioned the students on the asphalt parking lot so that their bodies form the letters for the words, “The End.” O’Connell is standing on the gymnasium roof, his shadow at the top of the frame, peering down on his subjects: his garden of earthly delights from which he is free to pick and choose.


Speed Racer:  The partially clothed youngster in O’Connell’s second
yearbook snapshot is the brother of the undressed boy in O’Connell’s
1969 human pyramid photograph.  Msgr. Gregory L. Higley is at the
far left.  Source:  The Anchor, 1970, p. 20.


Christopher Isherwood documented life in Weimar, Germany, in
his autobiographical novel, Goodbye Berlin, which was transformed the Broadway play, “I Am a Camera.”  The first line of Isherwood’s novel: 
I am a camera with its shutter open, quite passive, recording, not thinking.”  Unfortunately, O’Connell was always thinking, never passive, always prowling.

O’Connell’s narcissism toward St. Thomas students emerged at the outset with alarming cynicism. We see this attitude in the group photographs published in The Anchor. O’Connell seems to take great pleasure in posing his victims together for the camera. Yours truly appears with Terence in one such image.

He also published a series of four images with Zachary and four
other students. We have one picture of Zachary with Carter and
a second with Alexander, who we know were victimized by the predatory priest. And we have two more with two different upperclassmen, whom we can assume suffered the same fate as Zachary, Carter, and Alexander.

Hobbits: The caption for O’Connell third image of a half-dressed youngster refers
to mushroom safari.  Source:  The Anchor, 1970, p. 24.

As a result, the most shocking element of these photographs does not involve the nudity.  Instead, O’Connell has captured with his lens the power dynamic of predator vs. prey. 

Ten years later, O’Connell’s attitude toward his students is revealed in a 1981 photograph of the Rev. Manus Daly (see above) that illustrates a new level of the pedophile priest’s prurience. Here on page 24 on The Anchor, Daly is captured in an aura of light-infused cigar smoke, supremely satisfied as a young boy lights up his tobacco. The expression of both student and mentor seems to imply a secret ceremony. The image is an epic composition of venality exposed. It represents smugness, advertising that something is amiss, that appropriate boundaries of student and teacher have been breached.

Irish Cynic:  O’Connell displayed his cynicism is in The Anchor by grouping
his victims in pairs, with the knowledge that neither student was aware of
the other’s situation.  In this series four photographs, O’Connell recorded
Zachary and Alexander together; followed up with Zachary and Carter;
and then placing Zachary in two more groupings with two other students.

O’Connell also photographed yours truly with Terence (bottom).

To paraphrase the analysis of one of the most powerful prelates in English history:  Fortune smiled upon O’Connell.  He was good philosopher, very eloquent and full of wit; he excelled above all others.  And, yet, he disposed all to mirth and pleasure and to follow his desire and appetite.  He loved nothing worse than to be constrained to do anything contrary to his will and pleasure. 

In retrospect, we can only assume, that this particular image was published as a show of supreme confidence and conceit on the part of both O’Connell and Daly. The pernicious quality of the photograph and the depravity it represents is fully displayed.


Smooth:  O’Connell’s fourth and fifth photographs of semi-clothed students
inter-laced a full-page yearbook montage.  Source:  The Anchor, 1970, p. 72.

We have a friend, who for years, collected photographs of people he dated. Typically he would snap a Polaroid for his current flame by the third or fourth date.  Often he would have a waiter take their picture together.  The flattery was irresistible.
Our friend had volumes of pictures, bound in leather, tracking 10 years of relationships. Each image was dated, annotated, often with a luncheon or dinner menu and, maybe, a tender moment recorded.  We thought our friend was a weird, but entertaining, duck:  a serial monogamist, afraid of commitment, and all the appropriate Sex and the City foibles and such. 

Our friend is now married and living in Vancouver. His photo archive burned at the altar of true love.

Bodies at Rest:  Aping Busby Berkley, O’Connell arranged these semi-
clothed students to create the final image published in the 1970 edition
of the St. Thomas yearbook.  Note O’Connell’s shadow cast from the top
of building as the student lay on the asphalt parking lot to note “The End”
of the photographer’s sixth year at the high school seminary in Hannibal,
Mo.  Msgr. Higley forms the left of the "E" in the word "End" and the Rev.
Daniel Luekenotte is the bottom arm.  Source: 
The Anchor, 1970, p. 78.


We would like to review O’Connell’s collection.  Unlike our friend, O’Connell must have preserved hundreds of images, stashed in a bank vault somewhere in South Carolina since he was forced to decamp from Palm Beach and close his account at SunTrust Private Banking.  Or perhaps he keeps his mementos under his bed at Mepkin Abbey north of Charleston.

We can only imagine the extent of the treasures of this perverted
Mr. Chips.

A sampling (1969-1982) of Bishop Anthony J. O’Connell’s
photographic record of St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary, Hannibal, Mo. 

Game Boys:  O’Connell incorporated group portraiture in the 1971 and
1972 editions of The Anchor to increase the frequency of semi-nude
photographs of St. Thomas students.  Msgr. Gregory L. Higley (top, right)
stands by the wheel-barrow, holding a shovel.

Star Struck:  Msgr. Marion Makarewicz as the Statue of Liberty, Halloween
1979.  The Rev. Gary Pool, wielding the caveman club, appeared in toga
in a mock rendition of Julius Caesar.  Related photography documents how
O’Connell & Co. used the dramatic arts and school activities to undress the
students.  Source:  The Anchor: 1973, p. 47 (top, left); 1979, p. 14 (middle,
left); 1982, p. 64 (bottom, left); and 1977, p. 44 (right).

Soft-Core:  Bishop O’Connell also appears to be a body fascist as these
photographs illustrate.  One student, in particular, is attractive enough
to appear twice in the same edition of the St. Thomas yearbook in the
group shot (bottom, right) and, then, cropped and enlarged (left). 
Source:  The Anchor, 1981, p. 30 (top, left); 1981, p. 37 (bottom, left);
and the enlarged version, 1981, p. 1 (right).

Pelvic Focus:  O’Connell is not shy about collecting crotch shots of
students he fancied.  Source:  The Anchor, 1975, p. 45 (top, left); 1982,
p. 65 (bottom, left); 1975, p. 39 (center), and 1982, p. 131 (right).

Skin Game:  O’Connell close-ups and stop-action images offset the
straight-on shots of partially-clad students.  Source:  The Anchor, 1979,
p. 55 (left); 1973, p. 46 (center); and 1975, p. 68 (right).

Powder Puff:  O’Connell, with Daly’s assistance, used class and school
dramatic productions to encourage students to pose in compromising
backstage role-play.  Source:  The Anchor, 1982, p. 65 (upper, left);
1976, p. 13 (upper, right); 1976, p. 57 (lower, left); 1977, p. 22
(lower right).

Torso Talent:  School plays and student talent expos became venues
for O’Connell to elicit suggestive posing from his boy subjects.  The
African-American student was billed as “Mr. Freshman 1978.”  Source:
The Anchor, 1979, p. 19 (top, left); 1973, p. 17 (bottom, left); 1980,
p. 24 (top, right); and 1978, p. 25 (bottom, right).

Rim Shot:  O’Connell took advantage of student athletics to replenish
his trophy stock without attracting notice.  Source:  The Anchor, 1982,
p. 62 (left); 1978, p. 61 (center); and 1978, p. 42 (right).

Staged:  O’Connell, again with Daly’s assistance as dean of students, used
special events such as the annual Halloween party and Student Talent Night
to get students out of their clothes.  Source:  The Anchor: 1974, p. 41 (top,
left); 1974, p. 20 (bottom, left); 1982, p. 38 (top, right); and 1976, p. 63
(bottom, right:  note the bondage motif on the student’s back).

Freshman Talent Night:  The Mummy stripped, a black-face Shaka Zulu,
and a naked guitarist represent the collapse of student life benchmarks
and standards at the Hannibal seminary midway through O’Connell’s
tenure as rector at St. Thomas.  Source:  The Anchor, 1979, p. 23 (left);
1977, p. 44 (center); and 1974, p. 17 (right).

Pectorals:  O’Connell portraits of the Rev. Les Niemeyer (right) and other
students are evenly distributed throughout the St. Thomas yearbooks. 
Source:  The Anchor, 1974, p. 12 (left); 1981, p. 60 (center); and 1978,
p. 24 (left).

Sonny Boy:  Santa kissing students was not an uncommon behavioral trait  in
the St. Thomas environment.  Consequently, the Rev. Les Niemeyer (bottom,
left) as a student was not uncomfortable when sharing Santa’s knee as duly
recorded by O’Connell.  Source:  The Anchor, 1982, p. 43, (top, left); 1972,
p. 19 (bottom, left); 1975, p. 14 (top, right); 1979, p. 32 (bottom, right).

Hands-On:  O’Connell catalogued students on the volleyball court, the
locker-room, and at track and field to accommodate his need for trophy
subjects.  Source:  The Anchor, 1975, p. 57 (left); 1977, p. 58 (center);
1979, p. 55 (right).

Bliss:  Bishop O’Connell’s predatory record continues with these images
of partially-clad students unaware of the camera shutter clicking away.
The Anchor, 1980, p. 59 (top, left); 1980, p. 61 (bottom, left); and 1982,
p. 29 (right).

Boyish Charms:  O’Connell’s candid camera technique is a way to catch
a student in a casual pose while highlighting body imaging.  Source:  The
, 1980, p. 59 (left), 1980, p. 12 (center), and 1978, p. 24 (right).

Odalisque:  O’Connell expanded the range of student activities with
weekends at the Lake of the Ozarks and a new church property called
St. Thomas West at Mark Twain Lake.  These new venues allowed
the pedophile priest to collect more images of his subjects.  Source: 
The Anchor
, 1976, p. 13 (top, left): 1973, p. 41 (top, right); and 1982,
p. 80 (bottom).


Pump Action:  The weight room at St. Thomas was an easy venue for
O’Connell take advantage of students pre-occupied with Charles Atlas
and Arnold Schwarzenegger.  Source:  The Anchor, 1980, p. 72 (top,
left); 1978, p. 14 (bottom, left); 1973, p. 67 (top, right); and 1980,
p. 32 (bottom, right).

Bishop Finn Testifies before Grand Jury in Kansas City, Mo.
Abuse Victims Ask Court to Prosecute the Vatican
Abuse Victims File Complaint against Pope with Criminal Court in the Hague
Vatican Smirks at Victims of Pedophile Priests
U.S. Supreme Court Allows Sex-Abuse Case to Proceed against the Vatican
Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua: The Catholic Church's Secret Sex-Crime Files
News Brief:  A History of Church-Related Sex Crimes in the United States
Pedophile Priests: Rupture with Vatican Sets Stage an Irish Reformation
‘Endemic’ Rape and Abuse of Irish children in Catholic-care, Inquiry Finds
Report: Irish Church and Police Covered Up Child Sex Abuse
WikiLeaks: Vatican Pressured Irish Government to Grant Immunity to Church Officials

Next Time:  A Collage of Clergy Abuse (Continued)


  1. As a grandmother living in Ireland I came across this site by pure chance. I wonder what the true objective of this site is - to "out" clerical paedophiles or to propagate images taken by a particular cleric interested in photography, for the sinister, prurient and clandestine interest of people pretending to disapprove. Do the subjects of these photographs know and consent to their images being displayed on the internet like this? Or are they being displayed under the false banner of apparent disapproval? I suspect the latter is the case. Why would one think otherwise?

  2. I was there for several of these shots. I deeply understand your topic, but I was THERE. It was not as this article describes. Contact me any time

  3. There must something to this story, otherwise Bishop Gaydos would not have shut down the alumni association website as described in Childproof 32: Missouri Bishop Shuts Down Website in Response to Thy Child's Face Clergy Sexual Abuse Report.

  4. I was there too. Like the student quoted in the article, I used to wonder why O'C had to stand there in the locker room with that little grin on his face all the time. I guess we assumed he was there as a chaperone, to make sure we weren't getting in trouble (a reasonable concern), but Coach was often there, and when he wasn't, O'C could have been near enough to hear shenanigans without staring at us. If I had to chaperone a team of boys like that, I'd stand just around the corner, or sit and read a book -- anything but just stand there and watch them.

    The events themselves which are pictured were innocent enough (though the Santa stuff is bizarre; that no longer happened by the time I was there). Teenage boys with no girls around are pretty casual about dress, and we often played "shirts and skins" as a way of choosing teams. Rough-housing was common. That doesn't mean we wanted those carefree moments immortalized in a yearbook for others to see, or kept in someone's personal collection. It's not what's in the pictures that's disturbing; it's the pattern of what he chose to film, keep, and publish. It would be creepy even if we didn't know what was going on behind the scenes, just as it was creepy to have him standing there in the locker room even though we didn't know why.