Cardinal Mahony to Give Deposition in O'Grady Abuse Case

By Ross Farrow
Lodi News-Sentinel [California]
Downloaded April 9, 2004

Details of exactly what Roger Mahony, cardinal of the Los Angeles Archdiocese, knew about the alleged sexual abuse by a former Lodi priest may come to light on April 22 when he's schedule to give a deposition in one of several civil cases against Oliver O'Grady.

Mahony was bishop of the Stockton Diocese from 1980 to 1985 when he became archbishop of Los Angeles. Pope John Paul II elevated him to the position of cardinal in 1991.

The deposition will be conducted by John Manly, a Costa Mesa-based attorney, who represents a 40-year-old former Lodi resident who says he was sexually abused in the 1970s by O'Grady, then a priest at St. Anne's Catholic Church in Lodi.

The lawsuit, against O'Grady and the Stockton Diocese, claims that the plaintiff was sexually assaulted several times by O'Grady when he was an altar boy at St. Anne's in the 1970s.

The former altar boy, whose name is not disclosed in the lawsuit, sued the diocese in 1994, but the case was thrown out because the statute of limitations law had expired.

But that changed when the Legislature passed Senate Bill 1779, which waived the statute of limitations law on child sexual assault cases for the 2003 calendar year. The former altar boy then refiled his suit last year.

Part of Mahony's deposition is likely to center on what he knew about O'Grady's conduct when Mahony became bishop of the Stockton Diocese in 1980.

The 1994 complaint by the former altar boy says that the diocese was notified of incidents as early as 1976.

Now in his 50s, O'Grady was transferred to four other parishes within the Stockton Diocese after leaving St. Anne's -- the Church of the Presentation in Stockton, Sacred Heart in Turlock, St. Andrew in San Andreas and St. Anthony in Hughson.

Mahony, 68, as head of the Stockton Diocese, oversaw O'Grady's priestly duties beginning in 1980.

O'Grady served seven years at Mule Creek State Prison in Ione after pleading guilty in 1993 to four counts of sexual abuse with children under 14, according to Calaveras County court records. That case is not related to the suit brought by the former St. Anne's altar boy.

The two male victims in the Calaveras County criminal case were awarded $29.2 million by a San Joaquin County jury in 1998, but a judge later reduced the award, so both sides filed cross appeals. While the appeal was pending, the victims and diocese settled for $7.5 million.

Shortly after he was paroled in late 2000, O'Grady was deported to his native Ireland. Before being released from prison, O'Grady was "laicized," or removed from the priesthood by Vatican officials.

The deposition is scheduled for Manly's Costa Mesa office. However, the April 22 proceedings may be postponed if Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Charles McCoy decides to consolidate suits involving former priest Oliver O'Grady under one judge. The consolidation issue is scheduled to be argued today in Los Angeles.

The Stockton Diocese has seven suits pending involving O'Grady, Sister Barbara Thiella said earlier this year.

Officials from the Los Angeles Archdiocese office were not available for comment Tuesday and Wednesday.

In a related development, a private investigator Manly hired located O'Grady in Ireland and served him with the lawsuit filed by the former altar boy.

"It was very hard to find him," Manly said. "There are many Oliver O'Gradys in Ireland."

Now that O'Grady has been served with the lawsuit, Manly said he plans to go to Ireland later this year and try to get a deposition from O'Grady and hear his story about what happened in the 1970s.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office, which has been actively investigating numerous cases of sexual abuse by priests in its jurisdiction, has not filed any criminal charges against the cardinal.

In another lawsuit involving alleged clergy abuse by O'Grady, Judge Elizabeth Humphreys of San Joaquin County is scheduled to rule shortly on a motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed against the Stockton Diocese by Cristin Perez and her brother, Daniel Howard, both in their 30s.

Perez and Howard say that O'Grady abused them in the late 1970s and early 1980s during trips and overnight stays at the rectory at Sacred Heart Catholic church in Turlock, according to their attorney, Joseph George of Sacramento.

Perez and Howard sued the diocese in 1994, but it was dismissed because the statute of limitations had expired. They refiled the suit last year because of Senate Bill 1779, which waived the statute of limitations in California for the 2003 fiscal year only.

Settlement talks failed this year between attorneys for Perez and Howard and the diocese, George said.

If Humphreys denies the dismissal, George said he will pursue the assignment of a trial date as soon as possible.

Contact reporter Ross Farrow at


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