Former Santa Rosa Diocese Priest to Appeal Extradition to Ireland

By Guy Kovner
Press Democrat
February 23, 2011

An attorney for former Irish priest Patrick McCabe said Wednesday he will appeal a federal magistrate's order sending the 75-year-old child molest suspect back to Ireland to face charges there.

News reports of McCabe's arrest last year in Alameda County prompted civil lawsuits by four men who alleged that McCabe molested them while he was serving in a Eureka parish in 1983 and 1984.

The lawsuits accuse the Santa Rosa Catholic diocese of fraud and negligence for failing to disclose sex abuse claims against McCabe dating from 1973 to 1981 in the Dublin, Ireland archdiocese.

Joseph George, a Sacramento attorney representing the four men, could not be reached for comment Wednesday on how extradition would affect their cases.

McCabe's attorney, Robert Beles, said he will file by Friday an appeal of the magistrate's extradition order on legal grounds and also ask to have the extradition stayed.

Sending an accused criminal back to Ireland would ordinarily be "fairly routine," said Beles, a veteran Oakland defense attorney who handles both immigration and sex crime cases.

But extradition to Ireland is precluded, by international treaty, for crimes that are "not punishable in this country," Beles said.

Child molestation is a crime in Ireland and the United States, but the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that crimes committed prior to January, 1988 may not be prosecuted here.

That decision in 2003 freed hundreds of accused or convicted child molesters, including former Santa Rosa priests Austin Peter Keegan and the late Don Kimball.

Since McCabe cannot be prosecuted here, he should not be sent back to Ireland, where there is no time limit and authorities are "trying to show how tough they are" by prosecuting decades-old sex abuse cases, Beles said.

McCabe came to the Santa Rosa diocese in 1983, months after he had been designated as a pedophile and placed on a drug to curb his sexual impulses at a church treatment facility in New Mexico.

His transfer was arranged by former Dublin Archbishop Dermot Ryan and former Santa Rosa Bishop Mark Hurley, according to an official report by the Dublin Archdiocese on more than 40 priests involved in sexual misconduct in Ireland.

McCabe was initially sent to Eureka, but transferred to a Guerneville parish in 1985 after parents complained he put children on his knee during first confessions.

The Dublin report says McCabe returned to Ireland in May 1986 and three months later was accused of abusing a 9-year-old boy.

Santa Rosa Bishop Daniel Walsh and a diocese attorney have said there is nothing in church files that would have alerted Hurley to McCabe's misconduct. Both Hurley and Ryan are deceased.

The civil lawsuits, filed in Sonoma County Superior Court, contain no charges against McCabe but allege that Santa Rosa diocese officials kept the priest's history secret.

The diocese, which serves 167,000 Catholics from Sonoma County to the Oregon border, has paid about $25 million to settle victims' lawsuits in recent years.

McCabe faces trial in Ireland on charges of sexually assaulting six boys in Dublin between 1973 and 1981. He was first accused in 1988 and fled the country that year.

McCabe, a diminutive white-haired man, remains in custody in Alameda County. He is being held in isolation "for his own protection," Beles said, under conditions that resemble solitary confinement.

McCabe suffers from diabetes and a heart condition and is "very miserable," his attorney said.

The extradition order will go to the U.S. Department of State, which typically takes several weeks to act, Beles said.

If the appeal is denied by a federal judge, Beles said he will take it to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

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