Former Orland Park Priest Accused of Sexual Misconduct with a Minor

Rev. Michael W. O'Connell served at Our Lady of the Woods Parish from 1997 until 2012, where the misconduct was claimed to take place.

Rev. Michael W. O'Connell's bio from St. Alphonsus Parish.
Rev. Michael W. O'Connell's bio from St. Alphonsus Parish.
By Ben Feldheim and Emily Stone

A former Orland Park priest was accused of sexual misconduct with a minor while serving locally.

Rev. Michael W. O'Connell has stepped down from serving at St. Alphonsus Parish in the Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago. The alleged sexual misconduct was reported to have happened while O'Connell served at Our Lady of the Woods Parish in Orland Park. He was pastor at Our Lady of the Woods from 1997 until 2012.

"The investigation by the Archdiocese has begun," said Susan Burritt, spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Chicago. 

The allegation was received by the Archdiocese of Chicago earlier in the week and was reported to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and the Cook County State's Attorney's Office, according to the Archdiocese's statement.

O'Connell also agreed to move away from St. Alphonsus parish until the investigation has ended.

According to St. Alphonsus’ website, O’Connell served at Our Lady of the Woods immediately prior to St. Alphonsus. The website says he was born in Chicago and grew up in the northwest suburbs. According to the church’s website, he was assigned to the Church of St. Mary in Lake Forest from 1989 to 1993. Before Lake Forest, O'Connell served at St. Michael Parish in Orland Park from 1983 until 1989. He started at St. Alphonsus last year.

ABC7 has a copy of the letter sent to St. Alphonsus parishioners announcing the allegation. “The investigation is ongoing and will take some time,” it says.

You can read the full letter here.

Read the full statement put out on O'Connell by the Archdiocese of Chicago.

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