May 12, 2005

Ireland residents learn of priest's past

Mercury News

Associated Press

THURLES, Ireland - A pedophile priest who served seven years in a California prison - and whose actions continue to haunt both victims and Roman Catholic leaders in America - lives quietly in this laid-back Irish town where residents are just becoming aware of his past.

Oliver O'Grady, 59, was removed from the priesthood and deported to Ireland in 2001 after completing his prison time for sexually abusing two boys, among more than 20 children he admits molesting during a 30-year career in the United States.

His case - one of many for the church in the United States and Ireland - has received continued attention for two reasons: He was once supervised by Cardinal Roger Mahony, now the archbishop of Los Angeles and, this week, a disturbing videotaped deposition surfaced in which O'Grady detailed how he would prey on children.

"'Come here, I want to give you a hug,'" he said at one point, demonstrating how he would approach a victim. "'You are a sweetheart, you know that. You are very special to me. I like you a lot.' She might respond, 'I like you, too.' That would allow me to give a better hug."

O'Grady was questioned in Ireland in March for a pending civil suit brought by an alleged sex abuse victim against the Stockton Diocese in California, claiming it failed to protect children from a known abuser.

Since 2003 he's been living in this Tipperary town by the River Suir, once one of Ireland's leading centers for exporting priests worldwide. The approximately 8,000 residents of Thurles found out more about their neighbor Thursday when The Irish Times, Ireland's newspaper of record, picked up American news reports about the deposition.

Posted by kshaw at May 12, 2005 08:27 PM