Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of December 20, 1999
Priest sentenced to 2 years
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
Father Patrick O'Neill was given a two-year conditional sentence Dec. 6 after pleading guilty to sexually assaulting two Irish boys he once hosted on a visit to Edmonton.
The Edmonton priest is currently serving a two-years-less-a-day sentence and 36 months probation given in a Wetaskiwin court in November 1998 for sexually assaulting three Alberta boys.
"Instead of acting as a good shepherd, he was indeed a wolf in sheep's clothing, an outfit no doubt made complete by the cleric's collar he was wearing," The Edmonton Journal quoted prosecutor Mark Huyser-Wierenga as saying in provincial court Dec. 6.
O'Neill, now 64, will complete his jail time in 11 months if he lives up to the conditions of his sentence, which includes 240 hours of community service, no alcohol and a $5,000 gift to a centre that treats molestation victims. After that comes the rest of his conditional sentence and probation.
"I've hurt some good and innocent people," The Journal quoted O'Neill saying from the prisoner's dock. "I apologize to them. I'm sorry for the pain I've caused."
A priest since 1960, O'Neill served several parishes in the Edmonton Archdiocese until his permission to say Mass was revoked by the archdiocese.
He began his career in Edmonton and then went to Galahad in 1971, Grande Cache in 1973, Drayton Valley in 1981, Red Deer in 1982 and Holden in 1985.
When he completes his sentence he won't go back to parish ministry, said Father Mike McCaffery, chancellor of the Edmonton Archdiocese. "He is officially retired. He would never be involved in parish ministry."