Clinton County priest suspended for “inappropriate conduct” with minor

CLINTON COUNTY — A priest at two rural Clinton County parishes has been suspended from ministry after he was accused of “inappropriate conduct” with a minor.

According to a letter to Clinton County parishioners from Bishop Michael McGovern of the Belleville Diocese, Rev. Anthony Onyango, who was pastor at both St. Bernard Parish in Albers and St. Damian parish in Damiansville, was removed from ministry last week.

The allegations came to the attention of the diocese last week and involve a minor at one of the two parishes, though the diocese will not disclose which parish or the minor’s age or gender, Msgr. John Myler, spokesman for the Diocese, said Sunday.

“We don’t want to compromise the identity of the person who made the allegation,” Myler said.

Myler noted that the allegations involve “inappropriate conduct that was not sexual,” but would not give specifics of what the priest is accused of doing.

Within 12 hours of the allegation coming to the diocese, Onyango was removed from his residence at St. Bernard and is staying at another Catholic residence not connected to a school or parish, Myler said.

The allegation was reported to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and other civil authorities, Myler said.

A diocese review board is beginning an investigation into the claims and will decide within about a week if they are deemed credible, Myler said.

Msgr. John McEvilly will take over clerical duties at the parishes Oct. 31, according to the diocese.

Neither parish in which Onyango was pastor includes a school.