O'Grady Victim Files Suit against Irish Archdiocese

By Anna Kaplan
Stockton Record [California]
December 2, 2006

A Southern California victim has filed suit against the Irish Catholic archdiocese for sending Oliver O'Grady, who repeatedly abused children during his tenure as a Central Valley priest, to the United States.

A recent award-winning documentary, "Deliver Us From Evil," profiles O'Grady, his crimes and the way his abuse has affected the lives of his victims. As a priest in Stockton, Lodi, Turlock and San Andreas, he sexually abused multiple children.

For victims, lawsuits like this one can be a way of coping with their own tragedies as well as trying to prevent abuse from happening again.

"There are other victims in Ireland who are still trapped in shame and suffering and should get help, and all church officials responsible for the rape of kids should be held accountable," said David Clohessy, the national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. "It's not fair or healthy or just to have wrongdoers get by with crimes because of national boundaries."

According to the film, the Catholic Diocese of Stockton moved O'Grady from parish to parish with full knowledge of his crimes.

O'Grady was sentenced to 14 years in prison in California in 1993. He served half that term and was then deported to his native Ireland. He fled the country after "Deliver Us From Evil" began playing in Irish theaters and has not yet been located.

Other priests accused of molestation, including one from Santa Rosa, have escaped litigation by leaving the United States.

Such lawsuits might "get people to start thinking in an international scope," said Jennifer Chapin, a member of SNAP and an Oakdale nurse.

"If people know what happened in one country, then it won't be as easy for them to get away, like O'Grady," she said. "It's not just an American issue. It's a worldwide issue and, hopefully, this will shake that loose."

The plaintiff in the Irish suit has chosen to remain anonymous, filing as "John Doe" in Orange County. He charges that the Archdiocese of Cashel and Emly should have prevented O'Grady from committing crimes and should take financial responsibility for the priest. Irish archbishop Dermot Clifford has responded that the seminary O'Grady attended is not under the archdiocese's jurisdiction.

But Clohessy and Chapin said they hope this suit will set an international example.

"If church officials can transfer priests internationally with no consequences, they'll keep doing it," Clohessy said. "Hopefully this case will make some bishop think twice before sending a serial predator overseas."

Contact reporter Anna Kaplan at (209) 546-8294 or


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