Accused Priest Battles Extradition

By Gary Grado
East Valley Tribune [Arizona]
July 24, 2005

Arizona doesn't meet Ireland's standards of justice, say lawyers fighting the extradition of a former Scottsdale priest who stands accused of molesting an altar boy.

They contend that if Patrick Colleary is returned to Maricopa County, then he would be subject to no bail, defending himself in an antiquated case and harsh jail conditions, all of which are unfair in Ireland, states an April 16 written submission to Ireland's High Court.

Ireland cannot force its citizens to stand trial in a country whose laws wouldn't be tolerated under the Irish Constitution, the document states.

A judge is scheduled to issue a ruling Wednesday, said Robert Eagar, one of Colleary's Dublin lawyers.

Colleary, former associate pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, moved to his native country in 2003 before a grand jury returned an indictment alleging he sexually abused a boy in 1978 at the Church of the Holy Spirit in Tempe.

Colleary is one of three priests living abroad who were indicted after a yearlong investigation into sexual misconduct at the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix.

His extradition made international headlines in May after it was stalled because Irish authorities expressed their concerns to the U.S. government about Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio marching 700 inmates in only their pink underwear during a transfer from an old jail to a new one.

Arpaio said Friday that inmates were marched in their underwear as a security precaution and he plans to do the same in future transfers.

Colleary's attorneys said they believe Arpaio simply wants to degrade the inmates.

"The sexual connotations of dressing charged or convicted male sex offenders in pink underwear are too obvious to need stating," said the Irish court document, obtained from Eagar.

Arpaio pointed out that all inmates, including women, wear pink.

Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas promised Irish authorities that he would try to have Colleary incarcerated in a federal prison rather than county jail pending trial.

Lawyers argue that Colleary could never get a fair trial because the case is so old.

Colleary's representatives also are taking issue with Arizona's law that allows for judges to hold a person without bail in certain cases, including sex offenses, if the "proof is evident or the presumption great" that the person is guilty.

"It is submitted that this is an unprecedented breach of the rights of an accused person and that it would be a breach of the applicant's constitutional rights to return him to face such a regime," the document states.

Colleary was jailed without bail for five weeks after his Dec. 4, 2002, arrest on charges of child molestation, which stemmed from a different altar boy, but also allegedly committed in 1978 at Holy Spirit.

Those charges were dropped because of the statute of limitations. The case was originally turned down for prosecution in 1978 because Colleary's actions were "insufficient to show intent in an assault or other crime," according the sheriff's report at that time.

The statute of limitations has not run out on the current case because the alleged incident was not reported until 2002. The statute of limitations clock begins ticking when an alleged incident is reported, not when it occurs.

The county attorney's office has filed several affidavits in the extradition case to counter Colleary's arguments, but those documents weren't immediately available.


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