The Diocese of Jefferson City

A Case Study of Clergy Sexual Abuse

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Childproof 34: An Epitaph for Anthony J. O’Connell

Page 34

Dear Bishop Gaydos:

Does it matter how death takes you?  After all, death is death.  As for Anthony J. O’Connell, we just may have his epitaph here.  Please feel free to consider the following.


Anthony J. O’Connell
10 May 1938 — 4 May 2012
An Epitaph for O’Connell
 “Everyone must leave something in the room or
leave behind when he dies . . .  A child or a book
or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair
of shoes made.  Or a garden planted.  Something
your hand touched some way so your soul has
somewhere to go when you die, and when people
look at that tree or that flower you planted, you’re
there.  It doesn’tmatter what you do . . . so long
as you change something from the way it was before
you touched it into something that’s like you after
you take your hands away.  The difference between
the man who just cuts lawns and a real gardener is
in the touching . . .  The lawn-cutter might just as
well not have been there at all; the gardener will
be there a lifetime.”

Ray Bradbury
Fahrenheit 451

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Childproof 33: Death, an Avenging Angel, Unmasks Bishop John R. Gaydos as a Synthetic Christian

Page 33

Dear Bishop Gaydos:

As the bishop of the Roman
Catholic Diocese of Jefferson
City, you have ignored another
opportunity to help the victims
of predatory priests employed
by the Mid-Missouri branch of
your denomination:  the death
Bishop Anthony J. O’Connell
May 4 at an exotic monastery
near Charleston, S.C.

O’Connell, who for 26 years held management positions within the Diocese of Jefferson City, is among the most notorious of pedophile priests to be identified in the last 10 years of the child sex scandal that has consumed the Catholic Church in the United States.

O’Connell began his ecclesiastical career in 1963 as a faculty
member at St. Thomas Aquinas Preparatory Seminary, Hannibal. 

He was promoted to rector seven years later with the death of the Rev. Richard L. Kaiser, and served in that capacity until 1988, when he was named bishop of Knoxville, Tenn.  In addition, O’Connell was director of vocations (1969-1988); a critical fundraiser for the local church; and a central figure of the diocese’s so-called Priest Personnel Board (1972-1988).

A lifetime of secrets destroyed Anthony J. O’Connell. He aged badly between
1989 (left) and 2002 (right). He expressed little regret for those he harmed. As
William F. Buckley noted in the National Review: “Bishop Anthony O’Connell of
Palm Beach said, at the outset of his meeting with the press, his staff, and his
fellow priests, that he’d had
a full day.His had proffered his resignation to
the Pope as bishop of Palm Beach. And now, he said,
I want to apologize as
sincerely and as abjectly as I possibly can.
In his meandering address, the
bishop said that God had given him
a lot of abilities and great giftsand that
he could
truthfully say I have used those gifts very fully.’  But one of those
gifts is not a gift in the arts of abjection. 
He apologized for the effect of
what he did . . . [to his victims], the effect of what he did in deceiving his
fellow priests and bishops and the papal nuncio. What he forgot to apologize
for was what he did.”

O’Connell’s power and influence provided cover for his predilection for young boys; and allowed him to shield others who shared his perversion. For example, the mother of Stephen Spalding, a Jefferson City youth enrolled at St. Thomas, reported O’Connell to Father Kaiser and the chancery office in 1969. But this information did not persuade Bishop Joseph M. Marling, or Bishop Michael F. McAuliffe, or you, Bishop Gaydos to halt O’Connell’s career.

O’Connell’s last promotion in 1998 as bishop of Palm Beach, Fla., collapsed in 2002 when he admitted publicly that he molested students at St. Thomas.  He retired to a life of obscure luxury at Mepkin Abbey, Monck’s Corner, S.C.

Mepkin had been the winter home of Henry and Clare Booth Luce.  O’Connell had free access to the residence:  he did not share the simple community life of the Cistercian (Trappist) monks who now own the property.  Rather, he enjoyed the pre-Revolutionary War ambience of the colonial plantation for ten years:  the acres of luxurious gardens that highlight the 3,300-acre property and attract thousands of visitors annually; and the social life of Charleston.

Portrait of Shame: Anthony J. O’Connell as he appeared in the
St. Thomas yearbook – a span of 20 years, 1964-1984.  Source:
The Anchor.

In the eight weeks since O’Connell died, you, Bishop Gaydos, and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) have chosen to remain silent about the passing of your predatory colleague.  You have kept O’Connell’s secrets locked away in a darkened closet, mouldering away,  rather than take advantage of the cleansing effect of daylight.  But truth has a price, and you have been unmasked by Death, an avenging angel, as a wicked Christian: an exponent of a synthetic theology.  You have been exposed red-faced as an angry, shameless, ruthless huckster, dedicated to a self-serving philosophy that has abetted this felonious conduct to the bitter end of life.

Nor will you be able to bury deeper what you have condoned, Bishop Gaydos.  Your actions have become something else:  a memory of who we were and a hope for what we can yet become. 

I was informed of O’Connell’s death at a May 7 conference sponsored by Come to the Stable/The Stephen Spalding Foundation at Lincoln University to mark the 10th anniversary of the closing of St. Thomas in 2002:  collateral damage related to O’Connell’s disgraceful conduct as a teacher and mentor of children and young people.

Two St. Thomas graduates at the Lincoln University event announced the news of O’Connell’s demise, saying the information began to “circulate through the alumni ranks” within hours of his death.  One alumnus wondered at the coincidence; another marveled that O’Connell’s death appeared to be “providential,” as if it were an acknowledgment of the suffering he inflicted on his victims.

From time to time, Anthony J. O’Connell opted for “candid”
self-portraiture in addition to formal sittings for the St. Thomas
yearbook.  Source:  The Anchor, 1966 (clockwise, top, left),
1969, 1972, and 1976.

A review chatroom conversation at a new STAS Alumni venue on Facebook indicates that the 134 members of Friends of St. Thomas Aquinas High School Seminary only know of O'Connell's death as rumor and gossip.  But the Rev. Bill Peckman knew of O’Connell’s death quite early and texted the Friends at 1:27 a.m., Saturday, May 5. 

The string of alumni comments highlight the lack of care and consideration for those who deserve better.  As one alumnus commented:

“I really don't how to feel.  He was very gracious and kind to me in the limited time I ever knew him — and his very name was legend to STAS during our day.  But then again, what he seems to have done really ultimately is played a big role in our beloved school closing
and some lives were ruined.”

As bishop of Knoxville, Tenn., and, later, as head
of the Diocese of Palm Beach, Fla., Anthony J.
O’Connell continued to market St. Thomas Aquinas
Seminary and recruit students.  The diocese
O’Connell’s efforts St. Thomas alumni
publications, such as The Voice
“Fr. John Sims
Baker of St. Patrick Parish, McEwen, Tennessee,
brought up four visitors for a weekend in January:

Fr. Baker, freshman Josh . . . , Stephen . . . ,
Graham . . . , Dylan . . . , Michael . . . ,
[Gregory] Oligschlaeger [STAS faculty member].”

Source:  The Voice, Winter, 2002, p. 7.

No, the issue of O’Connell’s death for Gaydos is simple:

O’Connell was a man who tricked youngsters who had everything to live for.  He was man without scruples, without ethics.  He was a man with no reflection.  And you, Bishop Gaydos, are surprised that the misery he planted, and you nurtured, has survived?

The death of a predator often allows victimswho may still feel intimidated and helplessto summon the courage to report the crimes, expose the wrongdoing, and begin their recovery.  Knowing that a predator can longer cause further harm, victims often take comfort in the knowledge that their perpetrators can no longer hurt them or other children.

An aggressive campaign to acknowledge the death of a child predator like O’Connell reassures victims and the public that the USCCB is honoring its promise to be “open” about clergy sex crimes.  Gaydos made this pledge as an original member of the USCCB Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People.

Joseph A. McNicholas (1923-1983), bishop of Springfield, Ill.
(1975-1983), visited his seminarians at St. Thomas on a
regular basis.  O’Connell recorded these encounters to
enhance his own profile and to energize his marketing
efforts for the Hannibal high school.  Source:  The Anchor,
1982, p. 66.

Instead, Bishop Gaydos, you continue to maintain the callous secrecy surrounding the death of O’Connell.  This silence is hurtful and irresponsible:  a continuation of what bishops do when a predator’s
crimes are exposed.

Likewise, your confederates in Knoxville, Palm Beach, and Charleston remain mum: Richard F. Stika, Gerald M. Barbarito, and Robert E. Guglielmone, respectively.

We are told that O’Connell was not active publicly as a priest in South Carolina.  Nonetheless, he still had access to children there and in these other dioceses.

By 1980, Bishop Anthony J. O’Connell was recruiting students
St. Thomas from throughout the Midwest.  O’Connell recorded
his efforts in the St. Thomas yearbook.  In this document
six students from the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau
(top, left) are identified and the group includes one of two
known victims of O’Connell from that branch of the Missouri
denomination.  Two students affiliated with the Diocese of
Springfield, Ill., are from Quincy and Springfield.  Also
included is the image of student from the Diocese of Wichita,
Kan.  What is startling about this exhibit is that it includes a
photograph (bottom, left) of two publicly identified child
predators:  the Rev. Frank Westhoff (seated, center) and
the Rev. James P. McNally (seated, right), with the Rev.
Patrick J. Shortt.  At that time, McNally was a deacon at
Kenrick Seminary; Shortt was spiritual director (and a
roustabout like the Rev. Manus P. Daly, dean of students);
and Westhoff, is identified as a Pittsfield, Ill., resident,
which is doubtful based on the evidence in the Official
Catholic Directory.  Source: The Anchor, 1980, p. 38.

Catholic officials also claim that O’Connell was monitored after his admission of guilt.  But we know only too well the stories of pedophile priests who have assaulted children despite these assurances.  The case of the Rev. Carmine C. Sita/Gerald Howard in Boonville illustrates the strength of this security measure.

A change of location is no “cure” for a pedophile.  The fact of the matter is that a pedophile priest or bishopfreed up from daily dutiesis able to scheme and ingratiate himself with those unaware of his criminal past.  This potential for further harm is frightening.

The silence of the bishops of Jefferson City, Springfield-Cape Girardeau, St. Louis, Kansas City-St. Joseph, Knoxville, Tenn.,
and Springfield, Ill., is just another example of the critical failure
of the Catholic bishops to protect children and young people. 
These are not little mistakes of the past.   We will continue to discover more treacheries just as the authorities investigating the actions Joe Paterno and the administration of Pennsylvania State University are now ferretting out in the Jerry Sandusky child molestation case.

Pyramid of Sexual Abuse:  The unmistakable parallel between the child sexual
molestation scandal at Pennsylvania State University and the Diocese of Jefferson
City, Mo., is not difficult to grasp.  As with any pyramid scheme, we have the
perpetrators at the very tip:  Jerry Sandusky, assistant football coach at Penn State
(top, left) and Anthony J.
O’Connell (top, right), a prominent member of the Roman
Catholic hierarchy and former rector of St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary.  The Penn
State prevaricators are (second row, left to right): Joe Paterno, head football coach;
Tim Curley, athletic director; and
Graham B. Spanier, the university president.  The
self-serving counterfeit clergymen of the Missouri diocese are (bottom row, left to
right):  Joseph M. Marling, Michael F. McAuliffe, John R. Gaydos, and their general
counsel, Louis C. DeFeo Jr.

The fact of the matter is that O’Connell recruited students for
St. Thomas in each of these Mid-West dioceses, as noted on
Page 34 of the 1980 edition of The Anchor:

“Although St. Thomas Seminary was begun primarily for the Diocese
of Jefferson City, in recent years seminarians from the dioceses of Springfield-Cape Girardeau, Springfield, Ill., and Diocese of Wichita, Kan., have joined forces with those from Jefferson City in making up the family of St. Thomas. This page of the Anchor is dedicated to those other dioceses who have seen fit to allow us to educate their seminarians. Much thanks is due to the bishops of these dioceses as well as our own Bishop McAuliffe; it is through the generosity of
these that all this is possible.”

James Vann Johnston, bishop of Springfield-Cape Girardeau, was O’Connell’s protégé in Knoxville: the first priest ordained by the predator.  Vann Johnston is aware that O’Connell victimized Springfield seminarians, who were sent to St. Thomas by Bernard Cardinal Law, when he was bishop there.  But Vann Johnston continues to praise O’Connell and acknowledge the disgraced clergyman as a mentor.

Bishop Robert W. Finn knows that young boys from St. Joseph, Mo., and other communities within the Kansas City diocese enrolled
as students at St. Thomas.  Finn, who is a St. Louis native, has been indicted by two grand juries for his failure to report pedophile priests.  Charged as a criminal accomplice, Finn is scheduled to stand trial in September.  His incentive
for silence is obvious.

A Legacy of Doubt
The death of O’Connell, inexplicably,
coincides with the release of data by
Come to the Stable/The Stephen
Spalding Foundation that cataloging
the molestation history of 14 O’Connell
victims: some are St. Thomas students;
some are not.  Further, we have received
information about seven other students,
who, according to parents, family members,
and/or loved ones, were molested by O’Connell.  We continue to document these cases and those that will develop as a result of
the rogue priest’s death.

Bishop Gaydos received this information May 7, which is included
in a 200-page report about the child sex abuse scandal in his diocese.  This
report is entitled Thy Child’s Face.

Silence as a Weapon
Bishop Gaydos, you have yet to respond to the Thy Child’s Face. 
We know that silence is a powerful weapon. 
An acknowledgment
of our effort would be beneficial:  silence is unacceptable.  But
we have learned to expect this level of behavior from a loan-sharking hierarchy comprising sociopaths dedicated to criminal versatility, radically deprived of empathy, knowingly selling a fraudulent version of justice, manipulating the truth with a sense
of grandiose self-worth.

And so we write this for you with the hope that this story will lives
on with us and those who come after us.  For when a story is told,
it is not forgotten.

Do not ask forgiveness for what you have done, for what you
have condoned.  Show mercy and admit the truth so that we
may be at peace.

Otherwise we are forced to continue with an aggressive approach, finding some solace in the literature of sorrow and suffering:

“Some day the load we're carrying with us
may help someone . . . .  We’re going to meet
a lot of lonely people in the next week and
the next month and the next year. And when
they ask us what we’re doing, you can say,
We’re remembering. That’s where we'll
win out in the long run . . . .”
Ray Bradbury
Fahrenheit 451


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Childproof 32: Missouri Bishop Shuts Down Website in Response to Thy Child's Face Clergy Sexual Abuse Report

Page 32

Dear Bishop Gaydos:

John R. Gaydos
Jefferson City, Mo.
We understand that you shut down the
St. Thomas Alumni website as a result
of the data and research that appears
in Thy Child’s Face, a report that we
delivered to your office on Monday,
May 7. 

It would appear that your response to the
content of our critique justifies the analysis
contained herein.  We have always believed
that the problem with the pedophile priest
crisis is the fact that few photographs of the
perpetrators and their activity ever comes to the fore.

Thy Child’s Face provides that glimpse inside this particular
brand of sexual predator culture with images of young boys
captured on film by a master of the game:  Anthony J. O’Connell. 

Thy Child’s Face, reconfirms our opinion:  Alice’s mad Red Queen,
an imperious sycophant, jetting off to exotic European capitals like Bucharest armed with make-believe work to impress those paying for the privilege.  But the reality-based horror of this vision is the fact that you are a perfect match for the Joe Paterno management model, protecting a flock of Jerry Sandusky’s and threatening victims with legal action who date to expose your pitiful sleight of hand.

The printed version of Thy Child’s Face is a 200-page review of
the sexual abuse scandal in the Diocese of Jefferson City.  We think
it is damning analysis of your management of the child molestation scandal in Mid-Missouri: a base and callous continuation of the
cover-up of crimes against children that you willingly adapted from
your predecessor, Michael F. McAuliffe, to protect your regime.  

In essence you have buried the past beneath a mer de glace of deception, hoping no one will ever bother to drill through this glacial cover up to bring justice to those that you continue to harm to this day.  But no matter how thick the glacier of lies, we know that Thy Child’s Face offers evidence that the St. Thomas yearbooks, The Anchor: 1) tells the tale of O’Connell unnatural interest in young boys (see Collage Exhibit, Part 1); 2) documents O’Connell’s prurient tastes (see Collage Exhibit, Part II); and 3) serves as an archive of clergy sexual abuse highlighting the close contact that pedophile priests working for the Diocese of Jefferson City had with the unwitting students (see Childproof 3 exhibit). 

The suppressed website – St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary Alumni Association Archiveswas a digital archive for The Anchor and functioned as a networking resource for students victimized by Bishop O’Connell, the Rev. Manus P. Daly, the Rev. David G. Buescher, and other predatory faculty members who worked
at the now-defunct Hannibal boarding school.  We speculate
that Thy Child’s Face reproduced incriminating St. Thomas
yearbook photographs and the alumni website was transformed
into a mirror to the soul of the clergy abuse scandal.  We believe Bishop Gaydos that you would rather break that mirror rather than gaze upon that reflection of the truth.

Rev. Dylan Schrader
Associate Pastor
Immaculate Conception
Jefferson City, Mo.
The round table discussion after the May 7
data release that evening is an interesting
follow up.   A St. Thomas graduate
announced the death of Bishop Anthony J.
O’Connell, a surprising coincidence for
those attending the meeting the Inman E.
Page Library on the campus of Lincoln

Subsequently, we have learned that
O’Connell died May 4 at Mepkin Abbey,
Moncks Corner, S.C., and was buried
in the abbey’s cemetery.

You have made no formal announcement of O’Connell’s death. 
St. Thomas students have received no formal confirmation of O’Connell’s passing:  a man who is acknowledged as the cornerstone of an academic institution that spanned the history of the diocese until it closed in 2002 as a result of O’Connell’s resignation as bishop of Palm Beach, Fla., and public admission that he molested student throughout his 26-year career (1963-1989) as rector and teacher
at the Hannibal high school.

The Rev. Dylan Schrader celebrated his first Mass 23 May 2010
at Holy Family Church, Hannibal, Mo., with the Rev. Mr. Evan
Harkins (left) and the Rev. Nicklaus Winker. Schrader is a
member of the STAS Class of 2002, the last cohort of students
to graduate from St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary; and the last
STAS graduate to be ordained.

A New Generation Learns the Art of Deceit
We are aware that the architect and editor of the quashed website
is the Rev. Dylan Schrader
.  Schrader, a baby-faced cleric with
bee-stung lips, is an associate pastor at Immaculate Conception Church, Jefferson City. 

Msgr. David D. Cox, the pastor of Immaculate Conception, is Schrader’s former teacher.  Cox taught at St. Thomas for nearly
two decades.

Dylan Schrader is a member of the St. Thomas Class of 2002,
the last cohort of students to graduate from the Hannibal seminary.

He also is the last St. Thomas graduate to be ordained for
the priesthood. 

The Rev. Michael Quinn, pastor of Holy Family
Church, Hannibal, helped the Rev. Dylan Schrader
with his vestments during his ordination service
22 May 2010 at St. Joseph Cathedral, Jefferson
City, Mo.  Quinn is among the first St. Thomas
graduates to be ordained in 1970.

It is fitting that the Rev. Michael Quinn, among the first STAS graduates to be ordained should participate in his priestly rite of passage.  Perhaps Quinn and Schrader will join forces someday to expose the secrets that the diocese has kept hidden for so long
and honor the memory of their late colleague:  the Rev. Joseph W. Starmann (see images below).

Rev. Dylan Schrader has a marked interest in liturgy and rubrics,
the overriding mission of the modern church.

We understand that you delegated Schrader to create and manage the St. Thomas website, because he is a savvy communicator and
an aggressive self-promoter, Wegs added.  For example, he said, Schrader hosts a number of other websites such as Ipissima Verba and submits his homilies for publication in the Homiletic and Pastoral Review.  But it appears he is trying to re-invent a wheel long ago established by John Baptist Müller, S.J., in his Handbook of Ceremonies for Priests and Seminarians (1907) or Nikolaus Gihrs The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass; Dogmatically, Liturgically, and Ascetically Explained (1902).

The note Schrader posted at the St. Thomas website reads:
I’m sorry, but certain websites have been copying images from
this website without permission. Until further notice, I am taking
the site down.

The rationale for shutting down the website, Wegs said, appears to be a concern about imaging rights related to the digitized yearbooks and newsletters that also are available to students in their traditional form.  The diocese has offered no other reason for removing the information from the internet.

We don't understand Schrader’s reference.  We have access to most of the St. Thomas yearbooks, and we have reproduced a series of yearbook photographs at Thy Child’s Face. 

Dylan Schrader
Kenrick Seminary
O’Connell, who was the yearbook advisor
and sole photographer for each edition,
presented complete collections to some
of his victims: each edition with the student’s
name embossed in gold.  Some of his victims
also were yearbook editors, students who
spent summers at St. Thomas to complete
the publication of their particular editions:
our research indicates that O’Connell
molested at least three yearbook editors.

Your shut-down of the St. Thomas alumni website is not as
critical as is your failure to contact former students and announce O’Connell’s demise.

Bishop Gaydos, the issue of O’Connell’s death is simple.  The death
of a predator often allows victims – who may still feel intimidated and helpless – to summon the courage to report the crimes, expose the wrongdoing, and begin their recovery.

Knowing that a predator can longer cause further harm, victims often take comfort in the knowledge that their perpetrators can no longer hurt them or other children.

You made a pledge as an original member of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People to maintain an open and honest relationship with Church members and the public about the
status of pedophile priests.

It’s too bad that you continue to renege on your promise protect those you serve.

Bishop John R. Gaydos has removed all content and messages from
the St. Thomas Alumni Association website.  The original notice
posted by the developer and webmaster, the Rev. Dylan Schrader,
read as follows:
I’m sorry, but certain websites have been copying
images from this website without permission. Until further notice,
I am taking the site down.”

Monday, June 4, 2012

Childproof 31: Death Comes for Anthony J. O’Connell

Page 31

Anthony J. O’Connell
10 May 1938-4 May 2012

8 March 2002:  Anthony J. O’Connell leaves the podium after
admitting at a press conference that he molested students at
St. Thomas Aquinas Preparatory Seminary, Hannibal, Mo., during
his 26-year tenure as rector (1969-1989), dean of students
(1966-1969), faculty member (1963-1989).  O’Connell was an
apt recruiter, enrolling students from dioceses in Missouri, Illinois
and Kansas as assistant vocation director (1965-1970) and director
of vocations (1970-1988) for the Diocese of Jefferson City.

O’Connell also held one of the two leadership positions on the
so-called Priest Personnel Board (1972-1988) for the Diocese,
which gave him access to all clergy employment files.  In addition,

O’Connell was a talented rainmaker with an uncanny ability to
generate funding for the seminary and diocese alike.  He was
named bishop of Knoxville, Tenn. (1988-1998) and then Palm
Beach, Fla. (1998-2002), with the support of three close friends: 
Bernard Francis Cardinal Law, Bishop Michael F. McAuliffe and
Bishop John R. Gaydos.  Nonetheless, O’Connell died in obscurity. 
O’Connell passed away unremarked:  no obituary, no memorial,
no fanfare.  He was buried in secrecy without ceremony.  O’Connell
never apologized to those he harmed.  He expressed no regret for
his actions.  But O’Connell did manage to live in luxury at the
former winter home of Henry and Clare Boothe Luce, north of
Charleston, S.C.  The pre-Revolutionary War plantation is now
known as Mepkin Abbey, a Cistercian monastery.  The 3,200-acre
property in Monck’s Corner attracts thousands of visitors annually
to marvel at its historic gardens and tour the monks’ mushroom
growing enterprise. 
Requiescat in Pace.