By Associated Press - Tuesday, April 15, 2014

CHICAGO (AP) - The Archdiocese of Chicago has returned a priest to active ministry after the Cook County Sheriff’s Department concluded there’s no evidence the man sexually abused a minor nearly 20 years ago.

Father Michael W. O’Connell stepped down as pastor of St. Alphonsus Parish in Chicago in December 2013 after allegations he engaged in sexual misconduct while assigned to Our Lady of the Woods Parish in Orland Park.

Archdiocese officials reported the alleged abuse to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and the Cook County state’s attorney’s office. In a Tuesday statement, the archdiocese said a church investigation also didn’t find evidence O’Connell engaged in sexual misconduct.

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests President Barbara Blaine says organization officials are disappointed by O’Connell’s return to church duties.

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