St. Louis Priest Charged with Soliciting Sex from Minor

By Robert Patrick
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
July 31, 2009

ST. LOUIS — The arrest of a Catholic priest in an FBI pedophile sting is a "black eye" for all priests, Archbishop Robert J. Carlson said Thursday.

Charges against the Rev. James Patrick Grady, pastor of St. Raphael the Archangel Church in south St. Louis, spurred a few parishioners to meet privately with archdiocesan officials and Carlson, who promised to celebrate Mass there on Saturday.

Grady, 57, showed up Wednesday at a house used as an FBI trap after arranging to pay for a sex act with a 16-year-old girl, federal court documents say.

After spotting an online ad offering "young females of an indeterminate age," Grady and an undercover investigator exchanged e-mails, and the officer sent Grady a digitally altered picture of a 16-year-old girl, according to an affidavit by FBI Special Agent Cynthia Dockery.

Grady agreed to pay $80 for 30 minutes and was told the girl was just 16, Dockery wrote. He asked for a massage and was turned down, then asked for kissing and oral sex, the document says.

By phone, Grady got directions to a secret location in St. Louis County, Dockery wrote. He showed up with the money but became suspicious and had turned to leave when he was arrested.


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Grady admitted sending the e-mails and said he went to the house because he was "curious," the affidavit says. He also said he was a priest.

Later, FBI agents later went to the parish during a Knights of Columbus meeting and seized Grady's personal computer, Carlson said he was told.

Grady was indicted Thursday in U.S. District Court in St. Louis on a charge of attempting to obtain a minor for a commercial sex act, which carries a potential penalty of 10 years to life in federal prison.

Prosecutors asked that Grady be held until trial, saying the offense is considered a crime of violence and that he is a "threat to the community."

In a news conference, Carlson said Grady is suspended pending the outcome of the case. As long as the charges remain only allegations, Carlson said, the archdiocese will pay Grady's legal bills and post bail if it's set.

Carlson said church officials are working on arranging a "secure," monitored location if Grady is released.

He also said Grady's file has "nothing in it to indicate anything of this nature."

Carlson said the accusation represents "a serious fracture in the trust relationship" between parishioners and priests. He also said it damages the reputation of priests and triggers an examination of, "What more should we be doing that we haven't done?"

He pledged to send letters and e-mails to notify the parish community and ask all the parishes where Grady served for information about him.

The Archdiocese of St. Louis was rattled by the same kind of sexual abuse accusations against priests that swept the country early this decade. Carlson is new here, taking charge just seven weeks ago.

He said a routine recent examination of parish computers found no inappropriate material. He did question why Grady needed his own computer when the parish had them.

Carlson said he was told the priest "tended to be a quiet individual."

Grady was ordained in 1977 and served in parishes across the area, including Little Flower in Richmond Heights, Assumption in South County, St. Ferdinand in Florissant and the Cathedral Basilica and Holy Family in St. Louis. He became pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Elsberry in 1995, Holy Innocents in St. Louis in 2001 and St. Raphael in 2005.

About six parents of children at the parish school met with Monsignor Richard Hanneke, the archdiocesan director of priest personnel, and other officials Thursday afternoon.

Ann Perryman, the school board president, emerged saying, "It was a completely isolated incident, I believe." She added, "I think he had a moment of weakness."

To Tom Magee, a parent and past president of the school board, the news was like "a kick in the stomach." But he said that St. Raphael is a strong parish. "We'll survive."

Earlier Thursday, parish school board member Michael Foley, said, "I am shocked. Speechless." He said Grady is a "very quiet man, kept to himself and always seemed very pious."

Grady was the third man arrested in an FBI sting that began in early July.

The allegations against the others were similar — that they responded to an online ad to seek sex with one or more underage girls.

Matthew S. Nichol, 43, responded to the ad on July 13 and eventually agreed to pay $200 to have sex with two girls, charging documents claim.

David P. Hawkey, 25, was arrested Monday after showing up at the house after agreeing to pay $80 for sex with a 14-year-old girl, court documents say.


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