America: bishop resigns over abuse case

 The Catholic bishop of Palm Beach, Florida, resigned on Friday after admitting he had sexually abused a 13 year-old student in the 1970s. Bishop Anthony J O'Connell, 63, was assigned to the diocese in 1999, after the resignation of Bishop Joseph Keith Symons, who revealed he had sexually molested five boys earlier in his career. "I'm mortified and I'm saddened and embarrassed and ashamed," Bishop O'Connell, told a news conference in Palm Beach on Friday. Dozens of priests across the country have been suspended or forced to resign across America since paedophile accusations began emerging publicly in the Archdiocese of Boston in January. The Archdiocese of Los Angeles has suspended 12 priests. The Diocese of Manchester, New Hampshire have given prosecutors the names of 14 priests accused of sexually abusing children from 1963 to 1987. Dioceses in Worcester, Massachusetts, and Portland, Maine, have announced that they are releasing the names of priests with histories of child sex abuse. In Philadelphia, officials have reviewed personnel files since 1950 looking for abuses by priests and found "credible evidence" that 35 had sexually abused 50 children. Bishop O'Connell offered his resignation after the St Louis Post-Dispatch carried an interview with a former seminarian, Christopher Dixon, who said he had been repeatedly abused by the bishop after he had gone to him for help, because two other priests were molesting him. In a lawsuit in 1996, Dixon had accepted a $125,000 settlement from the Missouri diocese. The settlement included a provision under which both sides were to keep it confidential. Dixon, now 40, decided to break that clause when he heard that Bishop O'Connell had been appointed to Palm Beach. A church spokesman told a press conference it was likely the Papal Nuncio in Washington, responsible for choosing and submitting the names of three candidates to the Vatican to be considered for the vacant seat, did not know about the lawsuit or the settlement. He said there was no procedure or central registry, for dioceses to report the names of clergy against whom lawsuits or credible accusations have been brought.

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