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Bishop Thomas J. O'Brien dies at age 82, Diocese of Phoenix says

Posted at 9:31 AM, Aug 26, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-27 01:02:50-04

Officials with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix say retired Bishop Thomas O'Brien has died at age 82.

They say O'Brien died Sunday morning from ongoing health complications related to Parkinson's disease.

O'Brien served as bishop of the diocese in Arizona's most populous city from 1982 to 2003.

Phoenix councilman Michael Nowakowski released a statement following O'Brien's death:

It is with a heavy heart that I inform the community that Bishop Thomas O'Brien passed away this morning at 82 years of age.  As his Director of Hispanic Ministry for eight years, I witnessed his advocacy for the Hispanic community that ensured ministries and services for the Spanish speaking.  His gentle spirit will be missed. The Nowakowski family wishes to convey our deepest sympathy to the Diocese of Phoenix, his family and friends.  May Bishop O'Brien rest in peace.

An investigation by the Maricopa County Attorney's Office in 2002 revealed O'Brien had protected suspected pedophile priests.

He was granted immunity from prosecution after signing a document admitting his part in cover-ups of alleged sexual misconduct by diocesan priests.

O'Brien resigned as bishop after he arrested in the death of a pedestrian in a June 2003 hit-and-run accident.

He was convicted of leaving the scene of a fatal accident and sentenced to four years of probation and 1,000 hours of community service.