Maricopa County’s top prosecutor said he has confidence in the current bishop of the Diocese of Pheonix and in the changes that were made in the diocese’s policy and practice that it is no longer necessary to bar the bishop from involvement with sexual-abuse allegations.
County Attorney Rick Romley said yesterday that the diocese has made the appropriate changes in its handling of sexual-abuse allegations since the installation of Bishop Thomas Olmsted as the current bishop of Pheonix and it no longer needs oversight by prosecutors, reported The Associated Press.
Last year, retired Bishop Thomas O'Brien had signed an agreement with the county’s prosecutor giving up his duty of oversight in the sexual-abuse allegations. His successor, Bishop Olmsted, viewed the provision as a violation of Church law, which calls for the bishop to have ultimate responsibility.
In the signed agreement, the Bishop O’Brien also acknowledged that priests accused of sexual misconduct had been allowed to work with children and were sometimes transferred to other parishes, without the knowledge of supervisors or parishioners. It also spared Bishop O'Brien prosecution for any criminal cover-up.
Bishop O’Brien resigned a few months after the agreement was signed. He was later arrested and convicted of leaving the scene of a fatal accident in Phoenix.