December 13, 2010

Police: Defrocked priest has thousands of child porn images

Notorious defrocked pedophile priest Oliver O’Grady was arrested at his hostel in Dublin, Ireland, on Friday and charged with possession of thousands of images of child pornography.

Notorious defrocked pedophile priest Oliver O’Grady was arrested at his hostel in Dublin, Ireland, on Friday and charged with possession of thousands of images of child pornography.

According to published reports, O’Grady posted bail of about $750 — about the amount of his monthly annuity provided by the Stockton Diocese — and will return to court on Friday.

Meanwhile, a hearing in a civil lawsuit filed in 2008 will be held in Modesto on Tuesday to determine whether the action can proceed even though the statute of limitations for filing such claims has ended.

In that case, a victim who was 5 when he allegedly began to be molested by O’Grady in the Sacred Heart parish in Turlock, is now 37 years old. He is identified as “John J.S. Doe” in the lawsuit, said his attorney, Vince Finaldi of southern California.

The Irish native arrived in the Stockton Diocese in 1971 when he was 25 years old and served parishes in Turlock, San Andreas and Hughson, among others. Despite at least two reports of child sexual abuse, O’Grady continued to serve as a priest until 1993, when he was arrested, and later convicted, of molesting two brothers from Merced.

He spent seven years in prison before he was released in November 2000 and deported to Ireland. Before his release, Bishop Stephen Blaire negotiated a deal: O’Grady would voluntarily leave the priesthood in exchange for an annuity that would begin payments when the ex-priest turned 65. That annuity, worth about $95,000, started paying $780 monthly to the ex-priest in June.

It’s a small sum compared to the total amount of damages paid in civil lawsuits filed against O’Grady in the years since his criminal conviction. The diocese has settled 22 civil lawsuits, with $18.7 million paid to his victims. A handful of lawsuits are still pending.

The diocese released a simple statement Monday about its former priest:

“The Diocese of Stockton only learned of this latest allegation against Oliver O’Grady in today’s media. The criminal justice system in Ireland needs to deal with this matter swiftly and justly.”

Nancy Sloan, one of O’Grady’s early victims and co-director of the Stockton chapter of SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests), heard of his arrest on Saturday.

“Sadly, I am not surprised that Oliver O’Grady is again committing crimes against children,” she told The Bee on Monday. “It’s what we have known and feared for years.

“I am horrified he is out on bail and very afraid for any children whose path he crosses. He needs to be locked up forever.”

O’Grady has lived in various Irish cities since his deportation. He made news in April when it was discovered he’d been living in the Netherlands for about 18 months and going by the name “Brother Francis,” his middle name. He worked as a deacon in a small Rotterdam church, volunteered at a shelter for women and children, and worked at McDonald’s as a children’s party coordinator.

When his true identity was discovered, O’Grady was questioned by police and fled back to Ireland. But he reportedly left his laptop on the plane, and authorities found pornographic videos and photos of children on it. That discovery led to the current investigation and charges.

An Irish police detective told the court in Dublin that officers had recovered “thousands upon thousands of images of child pornography, children from the age of 2 and 3 up to teenage boys and girls” on a confiscated laptop, USB key and external hard drive. She urged the judge not to grant bail.

But O’Grady’s attorney told the court that the ex-priest was in difficult personal and financial circumstances.

“He is a highly educated man who has had a serious fall from grace,” she said.

Bee staff writer Sue Nowicki can be reached at 578-2012.

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