Advocacy Group: Two Report Abuse at St. Bernard's between 1983 and 1985; Former Priest Facing Molestation Charges in Ireland, Awaiting Extradition

By Thadeus Greenson
The Times-Standard
August 17 2010

Two men who attended St. Bernard's Catholic Parish as boys have come forward to say accused former Irish Catholic priest Patrick Joseph McCabe sexually abused them during his time in Eureka in the early 1980s, according to a victim advocacy group.

Joey Piscitelli, the northwest director of Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests, said two men have contacted his organization to make the reports after reading in the Times-Standard about McCabe -- who is currently in the process of being extradited to Ireland to face charges of molesting six boys between 1973 and 1981.

Piscitelli said he could not discuss the two Eureka men's allegations in detail, but said the alleged acts occurred before they turned 14, and that both, now adults, are seeking legal counsel and have not decided whether to report their allegations to authorities.

Eureka Police Chief Garr Nielsen said that as of Monday afternoon no one had contacted his department with allegations of abuse at the hands of McCabe.

Father Loren Allen, who has headed St. Bernard's Parish since 2001, said no one has come forward to him since news broke last week of McCabe's time in Eureka to report abuse, or even express concerns. Allen said he even asked a few of the parish's longest-standing members if they remembered McCabe, and they didn't seem to. And the only phone calls he's received on the matter have come from reporters.

”I don't think he left much of a memory with people here,”

Allen said.

McCabe, now 74, 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 is currently being held in Alameda County's Santa Rita Jail pending the outcome of federal extradition hearings.

He reportedly left St. Bernard's in 1985, after reports of “inappropriate conduct,” and was placed in a Guerneville parish for a short time before eventually leaving the church for good in 1988.

Because McCabe was reportedly a known pedophile before arriving in Eureka -- having even attended a “renewal program” in New Mexico for priests and having been placed on the drug Depo-Provera, which was believed to help control the urges of sexual deviants, after allegations arose in Dublin -- Piscitelli said the church has a responsibility to reach out to McCabe's potential victims.

According to a report written by Irish Circuit Court 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 after allegations about McCabe began surfacing in Dublin in 1982. According to the report, Ryan simply asked Hurley to “rid me of this troublesome priest.”

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

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. The report does not include any specifics regarding the stories of “inappropriate conduct” that emerged in Eureka, but the Santa Rosa Press Democrat reported that the alleged behavior included having children sit on his lap when hearing their first confession. The Press Democrat also reported that at least three other priests involved in the North Coast diocese's sexual abuse scandals were based at St. Bernard's Parish at some point, causing the paper to editorialize that the parish appears to have “received far more than its share of attention from abusive priests.”

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.

Piscitelli said he finds that hard to believe.

”When a predator leaves the (rehabilitation center) and applies to come to your church, how would you not know?” Piscitelli asked, adding that Brady also then allowed McCabe to transfer to Guerneville after allegations surfaced in Eureka. “If he's concerned about children as he claims, why would he let (McCabe) go to another parish? The bottom line is if you're concerned about the safety of kids, your actions speak louder than your words.”

Piscitelli said he plans on traveling to Eureka in the coming weeks to pass out leaflets, urging any potential victims of McCabe to make a report with his organization and to contact authorities. But Piscitelli said he believes that St. Bernard's Parish also has a responsibility to its parishioners to reach out to potential victims.

”St. Bernard's has that responsibility,” he said. “The church has a responsibility because this man was known to be a predator.”

Allen, who said he first learned of McCabe's situation after reading about it in the San Francisco Chronicle, said the Catholic diocese has been very encouraging of victims to come forward over the last decade. As to whether the parish would conduct any outreach to possible victims, Allen said he would follow the direction of the Diocese of Santa Rosa, which oversees St. Bernard's and 42 other parishes.

”You can't have 43 parishes doing 43 different things,” Allen said. “It was the bishop's decision to place him here. ... We'll do whatever is asked of us by the bishop's office.”

If a parishioner were to approach him personally with allegations concerning McCabe, Allen said he would do everything he could as a pastor to help them deal with the situation, including setting them up with referrals for counseling.

Moving forward, Allen said he is confident his parish will not be receiving any priests with checkered pasts. He said the bishops now implement extensive background checks and psychological screenings before accepting incoming priests.

Looking back, Piscitelli said it's still important to reach out to past victims, as many only come forward after other allegations become public and victims realize they are not alone.

”Just the fact that two have come forward since (the article ran last Friday), that tells you that there are more victims out there,” he said. “Hopefully some justice will be forthcoming for some of these victims.”

Thadeus Greenson can be reached at 441-0509 or


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.