|Submitted||Aug. 27, 2018|
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To Whom It May Concern:
Pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act, I hereby request the following records:
Records relating to or mentioning Thomas Joseph O'Brien (November 29, 1935 – August 26, 2018), an American bishop of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Bishop of Phoenix from 1982 to 2003.
In 2002, Maricopa County prosecutors initiated a grand jury investigation into charges of sexual abuse by Catholic priests in the diocese of Phoenix. Bishop O'Brien was a target of that investigation for allegedly covering-up allegations against other priests. The prosecution ended when the bishop admitted he had sheltered abusive priests. O'Brien agreed to cede his authority over diocesan sexual abuse policy in exchange for immunity from indictment for obstruction of justice. On August 4, 2017, it was announced that a civil lawsuit was filed against O'Brien over allegations that he sexually molested a boy on several occasions at parishes in Phoenix and Goodyear from 1977 to 1982.
On June 14, 2003, less than two weeks after signing the sexual abuse agreement with prosecutors, O'Brien struck and killed 43-year-old Jim Reed in a hit-and-run car accident. A driver behind O'Brien reported O'Brien's license plate number to the police. Police also discovered a dent in a fender and a crack in the windshield of the bishop's Buick Park Avenue. O'Brien later claimed he did not report the accident because he thought he had hit a dog, cat, or rock. O'Brien was arrested for leaving the scene of an accident and released on $45,000 bond. He resigned as Bishop on June 18, 2003.
On February 17, 2004, O'Brien was found guilty of leaving the scene of a fatal accident after a three-and-a-half-week-long trial. On March 26, 2004, he was sentenced to four years' probation and 1,000 hours of community service, and required to surrender his driver's license for five years. He was the first American Catholic bishop to be convicted of a felony. O'Brien later asked for travel time to be deducted from his 1,000 hours and for flexibility in the number of hours he must serve each month.
The requested documents will be made available to the general public, and this request is not being made for commercial purposes.
In the event that there are fees, I would be grateful if you would inform me of the total charges in advance of fulfilling my request. I would prefer the request filled electronically, by e-mail attachment if available or CD-ROM if not.
Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. I look forward to receiving your response to this request within 20 business days, as the statute requires.
There are eFOIA files available for you to download.