Retired priest who served in Farmington put on leave after sexual misconduct allegations

Detroit Free Press/October 8, 2012

A retired priest who continued to assist in services at a Catholic church in Farmington was put on administrative leave Friday after allegations of sexual misconduct with minors prior to becoming a priest, the Archdiocese of Detroit announced Sunday.

The Rev. Loren O'Dea, 83, of Waterford retired in 1997, but he continued to assist at Our Lady of Sorrows and was on the church's mass schedule until Friday, said Ned McGrath, spokesman for the archdiocese.

O'Dea could not immediately be reached for comment Sunday night.

While on leave, O'Dea can't say mass in public and can't wear a clerical collar, McGrath said.

O'Dea was ordained in 1993; the allegations of misconduct date to before that time, McGrath said. The allegations were for misconduct in Oakland County, so they have been turned over to the Oakland County Prosecutor's Office, he said.

O'Dea did not become a priest until he was in his mid-60s, according to an archdiocese news release. He received seminary training as a young man but, for unknown reasons, became a social worker for three decades, "and then he felt the tug again to become a priest," McGrath said.

The archdiocese received the complaints in recent weeks, and they were found to be "of sufficient substance" to ban O'Dea from performing priestly duties in public, he said.

"If some guy calls and says he was abused and we think it's credible, we put this person on a leave of absence until everything is sorted out," McGrath said. Neither of the two complaints against O'Dea came from parishioners at Our Lady of Sorrows.

"It didn't happen there, or at least, the allegations are that it didn't happen there. I believe he was very well appreciated at that parish," McGrath said.

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