Father Thomas Patrick Purcell (Society of Mary)
Diocese of Tucson
Assigned as follows:
- 1982-1983 St. Odilia (Tucson, AZ)
- 1983-1984 Sacred Heart (In residence) (Nogales, AZ)
Summary of Abuse Allegations against Father Thomas Patrick Purcell:
Father Thomas Patrick Purcell was a religious order priest (Society of Mary) at the time of his service in the Diocese of Tucson. A church spokesman said Father Purcell was a visiting priest from St. Louis when he was at St. Odilia. He left the Diocese of Tucson in 1985.
According to media reports, in September 2002, following a three-month investigation, he was arrested on three counts of sexually abusing a 13-year old boy from 1982-1983 and one count of attempted abuse. He was convicted and received a 9.5-year sentence in March 2003.
Father Purcell befriended the boy’s family and acted as a “father figure” to the boy, said a South Tucson police detective. He manipulated the boy by providing his family with clothing and food. For about eight months, the boy lived with Father Purcell. He told the boy’s mother that he was helping the boy with his schoolwork.
“This man was like a gift from God to her family, a very well-respected member of the community,” Deputy Pima County Attorney, Kathleen Mayer said.
“He threatened the boy with turning his family over to the Border Patrol, as they were not legal at the time,” Mayer said.
In June 2002, Father Purcell was on the Diocese of Tuscon’s list of clergy credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors.
In August 2011, the Diocese of Tucson referred to him as a Diocese of Fresno priest who had been suspended from ministry.
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