Woman Alleges O'Grady Abuse in Lawsuit

By Ross Farrow
December 20, 2007

A 43-year-old woman has sued the Stockton Diocese, claiming that former priest Oliver O'Grady sexually abused her several times while she attended St. Anne's School in the 1970s, according to the diocese and two attorneys.

The woman, whose name was not disclosed, says that while she was punished at school, O'Grady sought her out in the guise of soothing her, according to the plaintiff's attorney, Devin Storey, from the San Diego law firm of Zalkin and Zimmer.

O'Grady had the girl sit on his lap and he would tell her a story, which led to the abuse, Storey said. The alleged abuse ended when she was in about the fifth grade.

Storey said he believes that the woman no longer lives in the Lodi area, but he is not sure.

The lawsuit was filed on Oct. 31 at San Joaquin County Superior Court, but it has yet to be served on the diocese. The law requires a mental health practitioner to interview the woman to make sure there is a reasonable basis for the lawsuit, Storey said. That process has been completed, and the lawsuit will be served shortly, he said.

Attorney Paul Balestracci, representing the diocese, said he has seen the lawsuit, but since the diocese hasn't been served, he had to go to the county courthouse to read it.

O'Grady has admitted to abusing at least 25 children and has cost the diocese millions of dollars in settlements of civil sexual-abuse lawsuits.

There are three additional lawsuits against the Stockton Diocese regarding O'Grady, which are pending, Balestracci said.

According to an article published Dec. 9 in Ireland's Sunday Tribune, however, the former pedophile priest appears to have gone missing.

Attorneys representing two victims who filed civil suits in Ireland claiming O'Grady abused them even before he moved to California cannot locate him to serve him with court papers, according to the article.

O'Grady has moved twice since 2001 and is not listed on that country's sex offenders register, according to the Tribune.

Victims of clergy sexual abuse were allowed in 2003 to sue dioceses over sexual abuse that would have otherwise exceeded the statute of limitations.

While current state law allows victims to sue until they turn 26 years old, Storey said there is a provision where older victims can file lawsuits within three years after when memory of their abuse returns.

His client repressed all memory of her molestation until she read an article about O'Grady in 2006, according to Storey. Then it all came back to her. At that time, a three-year window began in which she could file a lawsuit, Storey said.

Contact reporter Ross Farrow at


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