Navajos Want Apology From Phoenix Diocese!
In the nine months since the accident and throughout the trial that ended with the February 17th guilty verdict, some Navajos feel slighted the Catholic Church has not offered an apology to the community. Diocese officials state they donated $5,000 to an account for Reed and sent three top officials to attend Reed’s funeral.
A March 26th sentencing date has been set for the Bishop.
According to an article, bylined Betty Reid, in the February 19th issue of The Arizona Republic, whether Bishop O’Brien gets probation or is sentenced up to 45 months in prison will depend heavily on pre-sentence reports that can include: A detailed account of the crime; Any previous offenses by the defendant; Personal statements from the defendant, crime victims or interested parties; A life history of the defendant; Evaluation of alcohol and drug use (Reed was declared “legally” drunk at the time of his death and it was hinted that O’Brien may have been imbibing the sacramental wine prior to the accident); A financial statement for the defendant; An overall evaluation of the defendant and a sentencing recommendation.
Ross Smallcanyon, a Catholic at one of the few parishes in Navajo country said the diocese needs to make amends. Smallcanyon recommends O’Brien be dispatched to the Catholic Church in Page where he could work with Navajo families who need help in filling out government forms.
“I don’t think O’Brien should conduct services. I don’t think the people would accept it, maybe later.” He added he would not abandon his Catholic faith
“I was hurt, at first, when I heard on the radio about the verdict,”Smallcanyon added, "I talked to my daughter in Phoenix and she told me the bishop showed no emotion on his face (when the verdict was read). I felt like he was not regretful, At least say ’I’m sorry’. Navajos are very forgiving."
Tuba City resident Dee Wilson is one Navajo who is not so forgiving. She has one punishment in mind for the Bishop that would be served in Navajo country. “He can pick up empty beer cans. The jails here don’t have enough space but I’m sure the Navajo Nation would provide one for him.” She strongly recommends O’Brien spend his time in the Tuba City jail.
“Jim Reed was a Navajo from this area, and a lot of our people, who commit offenses outside the Nation, spend time in country jails or big cities where they are caught.”
Wilson feels the Tuba City community, along with the rest of the Navajo nation, has social issues and if O’Brien were ordered to spend time in a Navajo jail, it might highlight many of the challenges facing the community.
The Reed family hired attorney Robert Ramirez of the Phoenix firm of Miranda, Ramirez and Associates who said his clients want the maximum sentence of 45 months for O’Brien.
“Yes, the verdict is what we wanted. How could anyone from our side think otherwise,”said Lillie Reed, Jim’s sister,
“Neither the verdict nor sending three church officials to the funeral is satisfying without an apology from the diocese or O’Brien. No one has said, ’I’m sorry’ in the sense they accepted fault,” Ramirez concluded.
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At the time of the fatal accident Bishop O’Brien was under a great deal of public scrutiny and pressure to resign as head of the Phoenix diocese as a result of the nationwide“Pedophile Priest” scandal which included incidents occurring within the Phoenix diocese. BHO
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