Mr. Michael O’Brien – Diocese of Erie

by | Mar 26, 2024 | Abuser Profiles, Catholic Church

Michael O’Brien (Lay Principal)

Diocese of Erie

Michael O’Brien Horowitz Law


Assignment History

  • A-C Valley School District
  • 2017-2018: St. Stephen School (Erie, PA)

Summary of Sexual Abuse Allegations Against Mr. Michael O’Brien

Mr. Michael O’Brien worked in the Diocese of Erie for several years as a teacher in the Allegheny-Clarion Valley School District and school principal at St. Stephen School in Oil City. According to news reports, in January of 2024, it was announced on a public disclosure list that Michael D. O’Brien named, along with three priests, that he was under investigation by the Diocese of Erie for sexual misconduct and arrest in a case not related to his work with the school.

According to media reports, in 2020, former principal, Michael D. O’Brien, was accused and arrested for allegedly raping a 16-year-old girl in Pinegrove Township. Court documents revealed that O’Brien, 59, was arraigned on charges of Rape Forcible Compulsion-Felony 1, Statutory Sexual Assault: 11 Years Older-Felony 1, Involuntary Deviate Sexual Intercourse Forcible Compulsion-Felony 1 (four counts), Involuntary Deviate Sexual Intercourse Person Less Than 16 Years Age-Felony 1 (four counts), Involuntary Deviate Sexual Intercourse With Child-Felony 1 (two counts), Aggravated Indecent Assault – Forcible Compulsion-Felony 2 (four counts), Aggravated Indecent Assault – Complainant Less Than 13 Years Age-Felony 2 (two counts), Aggravated Indecent Assault – Complainant Less Than 16 Years Age- Felony 2 (four counts), Incest of Minor – Complainant 13-18 Years-Felony 2, Indecent Assault Person Less than 13 Years Age, Misdemeanor 1 (two counts), Indecent Assault Forcible Compulsion, Misdemeanor 1 (four counts), and Indecent Assault Person Less Than 16 Years Age, Misdemeanor 2 (four counts). He is incarcerated in a state prison in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania.

According to a criminal complaint, on October 26, 2020, a woman reported that Michael O’Brien had sexually abused a 16-year-old female victim in Pinegrove Township, Venango County. According to the complaint, the woman stated that in December 2019, she found a video on a computer that contained footage of O’Brien and the victim engaging in a conversation about O’Brien “touching” the victim. The woman reported confronting O’Brien about the video, but he became nervous and deleted it from the computer.

The woman told police she also spoke to the victim, who said she uploaded the video to the computer from a USB drive. The woman had only seen one video but then learned there were two video recordings taken by the victim involving her and O’Brien discussing him “touching” her, the complaint states.

The victim told police the victim stated she had engaged in sexual intercourse with O’Brien beginning when she was 10 to 11 years old, according to the complaint. She reported that during her previous relationship with him, O’Brien had been “controlling” and “emotionally abusive,” the complaint notes.

The woman also stated that after the accusations, O’Brien began openly carrying a pistol around the house with a round always chambered. She noted that she was never threatened with the gun but stated: “It was intimidating.” According to the complaint, O’Brien had told her to pretend everything was fine and get through Christmas, but she ended the relationship after Christmas.

After Christmas, the woman said that O’Brien took her to the garage with the gun on his hip and told her she couldn’t report him now because “she would be just as guilty as him because she’s a mandated reporter and didn’t report it immediately,” the complaint indicates. The complaint states that police arranged to obtain copies of the video recordings, which were entered into evidence. In the recordings, O’Brien admits to “touching” and sexual acts with the victim. He told the victim, “I don’t know that I could come up with a good reason,” when asked why he touched her. He also reportedly said he was “sorry.” The victim was crying as the recording ended.

On November 16, 2020, the victim had a forensic interview at the Venango County Human Service Complex. The victim became emotional at several points during the interview and told interviewers that O’Brien had been sexually abusing her two to three times each week since she was approximately 10 to 11 years old and then raped her in April 2019. She also reported that O’Brien told her “if she ever told the police, he would kill himself rather than go behind bars,” the complaint states.

The victim told police she secretly recorded O’Brien in November 2019 and uploaded the recordings to the computer in December 2019. According to the complaint, she created the videos “in case something ever happened to her in the future.”

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Diocese of Erie. If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a priest in Pennsylvania, contact our office today. Although many years have passed, those abused by Catholic clergy in the Diocese of Erie may have legal options, but filing deadlines will apply, so please do not delay in reaching out to us.

Contact us at 888-283-9922 or [email protected] to discuss your options today.