Suspected Pedophile Priest, Fr. McGrath, Goes AWOL

By John Ferak
Patch Staff |
December 29, 2018

McGrath is suspected of keeping child pornography on his cell phone. He was also accused of sodomizing a former student.

Father Richard McGrath, the disgraced Catholic priest who served as principal and president of Providence Catholic High School in New Lenox for several years until his forced resignation one year ago, has now gone missing in Chicago, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

The Chicago newspaper has been tracking Father McGrath's whereabouts ever since the Joliet Patch and New Lenox Patch broke an important news story in July revealing that the well-known Augustinian priest, who is a suspected pedophile, was now taking up residence at the Augustinian Order's St. John Stone Friary in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood.

In recent days, The Sun-Times published a story headlined, "Priest accused of child rape, porn, now AWOL from his religious community."

According to The Sun-Times, the Rev. Richie Mercado, secretary of the Augustinians' Midwest province, told the newspaper that McGrath "is unlawfully absent from the community." McGrath hasn't been seen at the Hyde Park friary for the Augustinians.

The Sun-Times article also included the following information: "Augustinian officials would not answer questions about whether they know where McGrath is now living and, if so, whether he's in a supervised setting, away from children."

On Saturday afternoon, Patch interviewed a reliable source with ties to Providence. The source indicated McGrath has been AWOL from the Augustinian Order in recent months because of a falling out with the Order. McGrath felt bullied and unsupported by the Augustinians after last year's scandal broke and continued to fester, the source explained.

McGrath is believed to be living alone, in essence unsupervised, in a condominium or single-unit apartment on Chicago's North Side, the source added. McGrath came from a family that was financially well off, and during his time at Providence he usually had a new Lexus every couple years, Patch was told.

"He's communicating with former employees and to staff at Providence," the source told Patch. "Somebody knows his whereabouts."

In December 2017, McGrath was booted out of Providence in New Lenox after school staff members notified New Lenox Police that a female high school student saw photographs of naked boys on Father McGrath's cellphone. At the time of the incident, McGrath was sitting in the high school bleachers, all by himself, at a Providence High School wrestling meet.

Patch has previously reported that McGrath refused to cooperate with New Lenox Police, and he refused to give the cellphone with the suspected child pornography back to the Providence staff. He retained a criminal defense attorney and police were unable to interview him.

New Lenox Police Department declined to bring criminal charges against McGrath, citing insufficient evidence to sustain a conviction.

Then, months after McGrath moved out of the Providence High School friary, prominent lawyer Jeff Anderson filed a lawsuit against the Augustinian Order in April. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of former Providence student, Bob Krankvich.

At an emotional press conference in Chicago, Krankvich, who is now in his mid-3os and resides in Crest Hill, revealed that Father McGrath forced him to perform various sexual acts including sodomy while he was only a child. By the time Krankvich was in his early twenties he was confused and suicidal.

"I had questioned my sexuality for years ... When I got out of the Marines, I should have been this manly man, but then inside, I was feeling a child, like I was weak and I couldn't handle anything and I tried to commit suicide numerous times. The only way I knew how to deal with it was to mask feelings and my hurt with drugs and alcohol."

Attorney Anderson told reporters at the press conference that Father McGrath groomed his client over the course of roughly a year, in 1995 and 1996, prior to engaging in sodomy with the boy at multiple locations on the Providence High School's campus.

After McGrath's ouster, Father John Merkelis was immediately installed as the new president of Providence. Last January, Merkelis sent a letter to fellow Providence staff seeking letters of support and encouragement for Father McGrath, which Merkelis promised he would make sure got delivered to McGrath, whose whereabouts were being kept a secret by Merkelis and the Augustinian Order at that time.

"Father McGrath has moved out of the friary and is officially retired as the President of Providence Catholic," Merkelis wrote staff. "Any cards or notes can be placed in his mailbox and I will make sure they are delivered to him."

Patch has produced several in-depth articles about Father McGrath over the past year.

Here's a sampling of them:

Father McGrath Committed Anal Rape Of Providence Youth: Lawyer

Father McGrath Allegedly Had Naked Boy Photos: Police

Father McGrath And A Mysterious Rectory Fire Death

Part 2: Brother John Newton's Mysterious Death

Providence's Fr. McGrath Resurfaces In Chicago


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