(WKOW 27 TV) Thousands of Catholic priests stand accused of sexual abuse. And a Cross Plains couple believes if the church were more open about them, a family member would still be alive. They believe their case may be the most heinous in the history of the sex abuse scandal. And now the family is hoping their story will serve as a wake up call to the Catholic Church.
It all began four years ago, when Tom O’Connell was told that his brother Dan had been shot and killed at the family funeral home in Hudson, Wisconsin along with intern James Ellison. For years, the murder remained a mystery, until police discovered the killer was the family’s parish priest…Father Ryan Erickson. The O’Connells say the church had known for some time about Erickson’s dark past.
“They didn’t do anything to stop him, and I am convinced that if they had taken action, both Dan and James would be alive today,” Tom says.
It’s believed Dan O’Connell had information that Erickson never wanted to become public. The district attorney now believes Erickson had abused at least one boy at the parish. They say Erickson killed Dan when he confronted him.
The O’Connell family would now like to see change in the Catholic Church. They’ve met with the head of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, to present an action plan. Although response has been tepid, the family is hoping for an audience with the Pope.