Accused Former Priest Served at St. Bernard's in Eureka, Now Faces Child Molestation Charges in Ireland

By Thadeus Greenson
The Times-Standard
August 13 2010

A former Irish Catholic priest facing molestation charges spent two years at churches in Eureka, reportedly having been sent here after superiors learned of allegations against him in his homeland.

Patrick Joseph McCabe, 74, is currently being held in Alameda County's Santa Rita Jail pending an extradition process in federal court seeking to return him to his native Ireland to answer to charges of molesting six boys in Dublin between 1973 and 1981. McCabe came to Eureka's St. Bernard's Parish -- which includes both St. Bernard's Catholic Church and St. Joseph Church -- in 1983, reportedly only months after he had been deemed a pedophile and put on medications aimed at taming his sexual desires for young boys.

He reportedly left St. Bernard's Parish in 1985, allegedly after reports of “inappropriate behavior.”

According to a report written by Irish Circuit Judge Yvonne Murphy -- widely known as the “Murphy Report” -- McCabe's transfer to the United States, and to Eureka, was arranged by former Dublin Archbishop Dermot Ryan and former Santa Rosa Bishop Mark Hurley in order to protect McCabe and the church from the brewing scandal.

While the section of the Murphy Report in question only details the story of an unnamed priest, the history closely matches that of McCabe's, and he is widely believed to be its subject.

After allegations began to surface in Dublin surrounding McCabe in 1982, Ryan made arrangements to send the priest to a “renewal program” in New Mexico for priests who had sexually abused, according to the report. While in New Mexico, McCabe also underwent treatment with the drug Depo-Provera, which was believed to decrease testosterone levels, and consequently the libido, helping to control the urges of sexual deviants.

Meanwhile, back in Ireland, Ryan reportedly was trying to figure out a long-term placement for his troubled priest, and soon called Hurley, according to the report.

”It appears that Archbishop Ryan asked him to, as it were, 'rid me of this troublesome priest,' and Bishop Hurley agreed,” the report states, adding that Ryan “presumably” told Hurley of the priest's troubled past.

The report states that it is unclear if Hurley made any efforts to monitor McCabe's conduct while he was a member of St. Bernard's Parish in Eureka, but said the Irish priest's stay in town seemed to start off well.

”By the end of 1985, however, things had changed,” the report states. “Stories of inappropriate conduct began to emerge from Eureka.”

The report does not include any specifics regarding what emerged in Eureka, but the Santa Rosa Press Democrat reported that the alleged inappropriate conduct included having children sit on his lap when hearing their first confession.

McCabe was removed from his placement in Eureka and sent to a Guerneville church for a brief stay before he eventually returned to Dublin in 1986, having been unable to find another assignment with the church. After more molestation allegations cropped up in Dublin in 1986, McCabe returned to the United States in 1988 and left the church for good.

Monsignor Gerard Brady, who was in charge of St. Bernard's Parish from July 1979 through September 1984, said he was never told of the allegations in McCabe's past before the priest arrived in Eureka in 1983.

”I wish that I was told,” Brady told the San Francisco Chronicle. “I would not have accepted him -- it's as simple as that.”

Contacted Thursday by the Times-Standard at the church he now heads in Napa, Brady declined to comment on McCabe, other than to say that the Chronicle had quoted him accurately.

Rev. Thomas Diaz, who served as an associate pastor at St. Bernard's Parish from 1981 to 1985 and now heads a church in Yountville, said he came to know McCabe during his time in Eureka and found him to be very friendly.

Diaz said he never saw McCabe do anything inappropriate or heard anything along those lines about the man. However, Diaz did recall being asked by a parent once why McCabe spent so much time hanging around the altar boys.

Noting that he was new to the diocese in 1983, Diaz said he never heard any discussions of McCabe and had no inkling of any problems in the man's past. Diaz said he left Eureka before McCabe did, sometime in 1985.

Diaz said he didn't learn of the allegations until relatively recently, when he met a priest from Dublin and asked if he knew McCabe. Diaz said the priest then told him that McCabe had “been accused.” He said the news didn't come as a shock.

”I guess after all the problems we've had in the diocese, you kind of become numb to it,” he said.

Attempts to contact Rev. Loren Allen, current pastor at St. Bernard's Parish, were unsuccessful by deadline Thursday.

Joey Piscitelli, the northwest director of Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests, said the organization hopes that the publicity surrounding McCabe's case will cause any possible victims who have yet to come forward to do so. The case, he said, also underscores the lengths the church will go to cover up for a “serial predator.”

The Murphy Report seems to agree.

”This case encapsulates everything that is wrong with the archdiocesan handling of child sex abuse cases,” the report states.

Thadeus Greenson can be reached at 441-0509 or


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