Monday, June 2

O'Brien of Phoenix admits cover-up

Bishop Thomas J. O'Brien has acknowledged that he covered up allegations of sexual abuse by priests for decades and will relinquish some of his power as head of the Phoenix Diocese to avoid possible criminal indictment, The Arizona Republic has learned.O'Brien's dramatic admission and his decision to surrender some authority came in a five-page agreement the bishop signed last month when Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley threatened to bring him before a grand jury.

The legally binding document is one of the most candid confessions by any bishop in the country that official church policy endangered children and allowed some priests to continue molesting minors long after their sexual histories were known.O'Brien signed the agreement twice in the presence of his lawyers, acknowledging his actions both as an individual and as head of the Phoenix Diocese.

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