ELYRIA — A former Catholic priest who served at St. Jude Church and is accused of having sexual contact with a teenage boy 12 years ago pleaded not guilty Thursday to a single count of sexual battery.
Patrick O’Connor, who is also a former Elyria police chaplain, declined to comment on the charges after leaving the courtroom at the Lorain County Justice Center.
O’Connor, 51, resigned in June 2008 after the latest allegation against him surfaced when the victim in the case, who wasn’t a parishioner, came forward to the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland.
The victim, now in his late 20s, was a teenager during the summer of 1997 when the sexual contact allegedly took place, according to prosecutors.
O’Connor previously had been suspended as a priest between 2003 and 2007 while the church was investigating another sexual abuse allegation from his time as a priest at St. Joseph Church in Cuyahoga Falls during the 1980s.
A diocese review board cleared him of those allegations, which surfaced in 2003 and prompted him to leave his position with the Police Department. O’Connor was reinstated as a priest in 2007, but the diocese restricted his access to children.
When he resigned last year, he had been serving as chaplain for the Sisters of the Most Holy Trinity and Our Lady of Lourdes Shrine, both of which are in Euclid.
O’Connor, who is free on bond, could receive up to five years in prison if convicted.
Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or firstname.lastname@example.org.