Priest Tried to Back out of Deal for Sex with Teen, FBI Agent Testifies

By Robert Patrick
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
October 15, 2009

ST. LOUIS — A priest arrested in a sex sting this summer was wary of law enforcement and tried to back out of his agreement to pay $80 for 30 minutes with a 16-year-old, an FBI agent testified Wednesday.

The claim came during a hearing on whether statements and e-mails allegedly coming from the accused, the Rev. James P. Grady, can be used at his trial, currently scheduled for Jan. 19.

Grady, 58, then pastor of St. Raphael the Archangel Church in south St. Louis, was arrested July 29 after showing up at a St. Louis County home that the FBI and police from St. Louis County and Maryland Heights had wired for audio and video.

He faces a federal charge of attempting to obtain a minor for a commercial sex act, which carries a potential penalty of 10 years to life in prison.

Before showing up, Grady exchanged 25 to 30 messages with an e-mail address listed in an ad in the "adult services" section of the Craigslist website, according to the testimony. The ad offered two "Vicky's," a code word taken from child pornography to describe underage girls, FBI Special Agent Cynthia Dockery told the court. The ad used two other terms for young girls, she said.

Grady's lawyer, J. Martin Hadican, got Dockery to acknowledge that someone not in the "sex business" might not know what the words implied.

Hadican also inquired whether Grady had asked the man claiming to offer up two girls, 14 and 16, via e-mail, "Are you L.E.?" meaning law enforcement. Dockery said that Grady did ask, and was told no.

Grady's question came after he and an undercover St. Louis County detective had discussed an hourly rate but before they discussed what "services" Grady wanted and the ages of the girls, Dockery testified.

Grady initially asked for a massage. When told that was not available, he asked for "kissing" and oral sex, she said.

Despite the reassurance that he was not dealing with police, Grady was still concerned about a sting, Dockery suggested.

Shortly after arriving at the house, Grady said, "I'm not comfortable. This doesn't look right. I think this might be law enforcement," Dockery recalled.

The detective denied being law enforcement, then called out for the imaginary girl to "get ready" and told Grady, "By the way, you're under arrest," Dockery testified.

Grady, who had left the house, "didn't want to cooperate," Dockery testified. She and another agent, who were wearing vests labeled "FBI," pulled their guns, she said, and had to force his arm to bend so he could be handcuffed.

Agents and police did not know that Grady was a priest until he was taken back inside, to the kitchen table.

After being told his rights, Grady agreed to let agents search his phone, car and home in the rectory, and to seize his laptop computer, Dockery said.

He also admitted sending the e-mails and said he went to the house because he was "curious," Dockery wrote in an affidavit. No further details about the alleged confession have been released. Likewise, no details have been released describing what investigators found on Grady's computer.

Hadican argued that the evidence is inadmissible, saying Grady was not read his rights and that his statements and consent to search came only after he was subjected to "mental and psychological coercion and duress" and promises of leniency.

In an earlier filing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Howard Marcus said that Hadican has "absolutely no basis" to challenge the phone calls or e-mails.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Audrey Fleissig will decide in several weeks, after both lawyers file more legal motions.

St. Louis Archbishop Robert J. Carlson has suspended Grady pending the outcome of the case.


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