Retired Priest Accused Of Sexual Abuse Removed From Ministry

Archbishop George Lucas has permanently removed the Rev. Donald Cleary from public ministry after the retired priest refused to contest an allegation that he sexually abused a minor in the mid-1980s.

The archdiocese received the allegation in early October and immediately reported it to the Wayne County Attorney.  

The person who filed the complaint reported that the abuse occurred in Wayne when Cleary was pastor of St. Mary Parish from 1986-1998.   The 73 year old Cleary had been living at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Omaha since his retirement in 2015. He was celebrating weekday and weekend Masses at St. Elizabeth Ann and St. James parishes in Omaha.

According to Deacon Tim McNeil, chancellor of the Archdiocese of Omaha, parishioners at St. Elizabeth Ann, St. James and St. Mary parishes were informed of the allegation at the weekend Masses, as well as parents whose children attend St. James School.

McNeil said the archdiocese has never previously received an allegation of sexual misconduct against Cleary.  Cleary was ordained in 1971 by Archbishop Daniel E. Sheehan. He served as associate pastor and pastor of a number of urban and rural parishes during his 44 years in active ministry.

McNeil emphasizes that anyone who has been sexually abused by church personnel should contact law enforcement. Allegations of sexual abuse can also be reported to the archdiocese’s manager of victim assistance, at 402-827-3798.

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