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New abuse lawsuit names former priest

Another lawsuit has been filed against former Stockton Diocese priest Oliver O'Grady alleging childhood sexual abuse.

This one claims O'Grady molested a girl during the early- to mid-1970s at St. Anne's Parish in Lodi. The unidentified plaintiff is a 43-year-old woman.

It's the first time information about this alleged victim has reached the diocese, said Bishop Stephen Blaire in a statement released Wednesday.

The diocese has not been served with the lawsuit, which was filed Oct. 31 in Stockton. San Diego attorney Irwin Zalkin, who represents the plaintiff, was unavailable for comment Wednesday.

O'Grady served at several parishes during his 20 years with the diocese, including St. Anne's in Lodi, St. Anthony's in Hughson, St. Andrew's in San Andreas, Church of the Presentation in Stockton and Sacred Heart in Turlock.

He has been accused of molesting boys and girls in his parishes, and his transfers to other parishes date from the mid-1970s. He pleaded guilty in 1993 to four counts of lewd and lascivious acts with minors and served seven years in prison before being deported to his native Ireland. He was defrocked and is no longer allowed to serve as a priest.

A 2006 documentary, "Deliver Us From Evil," showed O'Grady standing beside a park full of children, giving frank accounts of his abuse. He said that twice he seduced mothers to obtain access to their children. After the documentary was aired, O'Grady left his home in Thurles, Ireland, and his victims urged Roman Catholic Church leaders and law enforcement authorities to help find him.

A Dec. 9 story in Ireland's Sunday Tribune said O'Grady, 61, has disappeared again, this time from his home in Kilcock. The report said U.S. attorneys are trying to serve him with multimillion-euro civil sexual abuse lawsuits from two alleged victims.

Attorney Patrick Wall of the Southern California firm of Manly, McGuire & Steward wrote, "He's the Hannibal Lecter of the clerical world. He is in the top three most dangerous pedophile priests in the world and needs to be monitored."

The Stockton Diocese has paid more than $13 million in cases involving O'Grady, who has admitted abusing more than 20 children in California. Two civil lawsuits filed late last year against the former priest and the Stockton Diocese were tossed out recently but are on appeal.

At least 11 priests in the Stockton Diocese have been accused by about 30 individuals of sexual abuse dating back to 1950. More than 400 priests have served during that time. The vast majority of cases, more than 20, were against O'Grady. A second priest, Oscar Pelaez, was convicted of criminal charges and sentenced to six years in prison in 2002.

Bee staff writer Sue Nowicki can be reached at snowicki@modbee.com or 578-2012.

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