Probation For A Bishop & An Admission Of Guilt
The bishop was found guilty on February 17th of the hit and run pedestrian death, in Phoenix, of Navajo tribal member Jim L. Reed last June 14th when the Bishop’s car struck Reed as she stepped into the street.
On Friday, March 19th the bishop read the following statement standing before Judge Gerst when he asked for probation in lieu of jail time.
“In the course of my life as a priest and bishop, I believe I have addressed thousands and thousands of people in one situation or another. However, standing before this court as a human person, convicted of a crime, is the hardest thing I have ever had to do. I understand there is one person that is responsible for me coming before you today, and that person is me.
“It’s important to me that the court and the community know that I care very much about how my mistakes have affected people.
“Not a day goes by without my thinking of Mr. Reed and his family and how things might have been different if I had seen him.
“The police and lawyers have told me and the court that I am not responsible for causing the death of Mr. Reed. Nonetheless, I feel responsible, Your Honor. I feel if I had seen Mr. Reed, I might have been able to do something, something to avoid what happened, and Mr. Reed might be alive today.
“The loss and sadness related to Mr. Reed’s death and my sadness at being involved in an accident that resulted in his loss of life place a feeling of responsibility in my soul, in my heart and in my mind.
“I ask that Mr. Reed’s family and his community, and the entire community will someday forgive me.”
The Bishop went on to state that he feels it is every driver’s responsibility to stop and render aid after an accident. He emphasized the enormous stress he has been under since the accident and admits he should have done things differently with regard to issues of sexual misconduct within the Dioceses of Phoenix when he failed to act upon those issues after they were presented to him.
“My career as a church leader had effectively ended. However, my ability to serve the people of our community has not. I would like to ask this court to place me on probation so that I may continue to serve the church and the community and try to make up for my wrongs.
“Your honor, I do not want to be incarcerated. However I want the court to know whatever it decides is the appropriate sentence for me. I will humbly accept that sentence and I know that the God I have served throughout my life will to abandon me and will help me to earn from all of this.”
Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley criticized the judge’s
decision not to hand down a jail sentence and for suggesting that O’Brien’s sentence should be softened because he had suffered from negative publicity and humiliation.
Jim’s mother, Lillie Reed, broke down after the sentencing. “The bishop hurt me” she said in Navajo. “He took my child from me. Why don’t they put him in jail?”
This article was edited from pages of several editions of The Arizona Republic.
On a personal note: I have a friend and neighbor who is currently serving a six-year prison term for vehicular manslaughter. He did not leave the scene of the accident.
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