Superior Not Told of Complaints against Priest

By Justin Berton, Demian Bulwa
San Francisco Chronicle
August 12 2010

The priest was assigned to St. Bernard Catholic Church in Eureka after his Irish archdiocese tried to rehabilitate him.

The Catholic priest who oversaw Patrick Joseph McCabe when the allegedly abusive Irish cleric was assigned to the United States in 1983 said Wednesday that he was not told at the time that McCabe was the subject of complaints from boys in his native country.

McCabe, a 74-year-old Alameda retiree, is now jailed as authorities seek to extradite him to Ireland to face charges that he assaulted six boys there from 1973 to 1981. Some of the alleged victims came forward recently, investigators said.

Records show McCabe was sent to California - to St. Bernard Catholic Church in Eureka, in the Diocese of Santa Rosa, which included a school - even after the Archdiocese of Dublin knew he was a diagnosed pedophile and had tried to rehabilitate him.

"I wish that I was told," said Monsignor Gerard Brady, who ran St. Bernard when McCabe was assigned there as an associate pastor. Brady now heads a church in Napa. "I would not have accepted him - it's as simple as that."

Brady, who worked with McCabe for about a year before transferring, said no one accused McCabe of abuse. Another former associate pastor at St. Bernard, the Rev. Thomas Diaz, said Wednesday that he worked with McCabe for three years and was aware of no abuse complaints.

"I think the only complaint I heard was from one parishioner who asked, 'Why does he hang out around the altar boys?' " said Diaz, who now heads a church in Yountville. He added, "You don't put a priest (accused of sexual abuse) around kids at all. You take them out of ministry. They give the church a bad name."

McCabe left the priesthood in 1987, after a brief stint in the Diocese of Sacramento, and then lived quietly in Alameda until he surrendered to authorities on July 30. The defense attorney handling his extradition said the evidence against McCabe is weak, and he plans to seek his release on bail at a federal court hearing Friday.

Report on accusations

McCabe has caught the interest of advocates for victims of abuse by priests, in part because he appears to be the subject of a scathing chapter in a report sponsored by the Irish government on the Archdiocese of Dublin's failure to deal with scores of abusive clerics.

The name of the priest is redacted from the so-called Murphy Report, but its details match what is known of McCabe's history.

The report, issued last year, gives an account of the priest's time in the Diocese of Santa Rosa, which was one of the hardest hit by the Catholic priest abuse scandal. More than a dozen priests have been suspected of sexual misconduct there.

The priest whose history is outlined in the Murphy Report was accused several times of inappropriate contact with boys, but it took years for him to be removed from church work.

The report states that he was the subject of abuse complaints in Dublin as early as 1977, including from a boy who said he was assaulted after rehearsal for Easter ceremonies.

In 1981, the archbishop in Dublin, Dermot Ryan, sent the priest to a therapy program in England. However, the report said, Ryan told others that the priest had gone away for treatment for throat cancer.

The next year, the report said, another complaint surfaced. At a celebration for a boy's confirmation, the priest allegedly touched him in a manner that caught the attention of adults.

Diagnosed as pedophile

According to the report, another pastor said that when Archbishop Ryan learned of the latest accusation, he said aloud, "In the name of God, what does one do with such a man?"

Ryan's answer was to send the priest to New Mexico, the report states, to a "renewal program" for Catholic priests who suffered from sexual impulses. There, he was diagnosed as a pedophile and prescribed Depo-Provera to lower his testosterone, the report said.

Again, Ryan forged a cover story, the report said, writing in the priest's personnel file that he went "to study further in the U.S.A."

Stayed in the U.S.

The Depo-Provera worked, but Ryan was concerned about the availability of the drug in Ireland, the report said. In mid-1983, he made a personal appeal to Santa Rosa's bishop, Mark Hurley.

The report said it appeared that Hurley, who like Ryan is now deceased, was told of the priest's past. But when sexual abuse was being investigated in the Santa Rosa diocese in 1995, the report said, Hurley swore in a deposition that he had "torn up all confidential personnel records before his resignation in 1987."

By the end of 1985, the report said, "stories of inappropriate conduct" had reached Hurley, who removed the priest from Eureka. The priest worked briefly at another church in 1986 - McCabe worked in Guerneville, according to Diaz and church records - but was offered no further work.

The priest wrote to Ryan's successor in Dublin, suggesting that Hurley asked him to leave based on meritless rumors. "Because of recent publicity here in the media and legal implications about child abuse," he wrote, "Bishop Hurley reacted very strongly."

Out of work, the priest returned briefly to Dublin in May 1986. While there, the report said, he was accused of abusing a 9-year-old boy.

Within days, the priest returned to the United States, the report said, where he took a course for hospital chaplains through the Diocese of Sacramento and sometimes filled in for priests there.

Soon, though, a nun who taught the priest wrote to the Archdiocese of Dublin to ask about rumors that the priest "seeks out young boys for all the wrong reasons," the report said. The bishop in Sacramento, told of the complaints, ordered the priest to leave town within two weeks.

The priest again returned to Dublin, the report said, where he applied for posts in several places in the United States and Canada. "Each application ultimately foundered," the report said, "when inquiries were made of either Dublin, Sacramento or Santa Rosa dioceses."

Suspended in 1987

The report said the priest was again sent for treatment in England but refused to stay on as a permanent patient and was suspended in August 1987 from the ministry.

While in the hospital, the report said, the priest lined up a job in Stockton that was not affiliated with the church.

A spokesman for the Diocese of Sacramento, Kevin Eckery, said this week that in 1988, McCabe tried to get a job as a teacher within the Diocese of Stockton. This time, McCabe's past was not kept secret.

"They called Sacramento and were told what was going on," Eckery said. "He did not get the job."

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