Prolific Predator Priest Arrested for Child Porn in Portugal

One of the world’s most notorious predator priests - who admitted molesting at least 25 children in California, was deported to Ireland and later moving to the Netherlands - has just been arrested again. We hope he spends every remaining minute of his life locked up so that children will be safer.

According to reports, Fr. Oliver O’Grady was caught with child pornography in Portugal. He previously spent years in a northern California prison for molesting kids and received considerable media attention in recent years because he was interviewed for and is featured in a highly acclaimed documentary film on the Catholic sex abuse and cover up scandal. (The award-winning film is Deliver Us From Evil).

Years ago, he was defrocked, convicted in northern California, and deported to his native Ireland. In at least one case, he sexually exploited a vulnerable adult parishioner and went on to molest her daughter and sons.

In 2010, a civil lawsuit charged that O’Grady repeatedly sexually assaulted a five-year-old boy in the early 1990s. The crimes reportedly took place in the rectory of Sacred Heart parish in Turlock, where O’Grady was assigned. He was babysitting the child at the time, according to the suit. It says that the defendants “had knowledge or notice of O'Grady's prior acts of unlawful sexual conduct with minors” but “failed to take reasonable steps to prevent future criminal sexual misconduct and molestation.”

The priest’s supervisors did not “report O’Grady to law enforcement authorities (or) notify police, prosecution, parishioners, and the laity” and “acted to suppress facts...to prevent parishioners from becoming aware of O’Grady’s criminal activities,” the suit contends.

In one instance, O'Grady forced a seven-year-old brother and an eight-year-old sister to perform sex acts on each other after he raped and sexually assaulted them in California in the mid-1980s.

Church officials pledge to protect children and be open about abuse, but they pretend they have no duty once a child molesting cleric moves overseas. Given how prolific and dangerous O’Grady is, bishops should be doing everything possible to get him jailed instead of passively sitting back, claiming no responsibility and taking no action.

We in SNAP have repeatedly written to and begged Stockton Catholic officials to turn over to governmental authorities all information about O’Grady and urge other victims and witnesses of his crimes to come forward. And we’ve repeatedly appealed to secular authorities to do more to protect children from O’Grady.

In 2006, when news accounts suggested O’Grady was headed to Canada, we urged government authorities to block the former priest’s entry into that country and share information on him internationally so that kids are protected from him.

We believe that because of O’Grady’s extensive crimes, he might face new criminal charges any time, especially if more victims or witnesses come forward now. That could happen if Catholic officials use their websites, newspapers, and church bulletins to warn parishioners about O’Grady.

Responsible adults try to stop criminals. Irresponsible adults ignore criminals. And California’s Catholic bishops have long ignored this particularly egregious criminal by doing nothing while he continues to move from country to country.

We also believes that Los Angeles’ Cardinal Roger Mahony and Stockton Bishop Stephen Blaire may have - or be able to get - information that could lead to prosecution or help authorities track O'Grady's travels so that local law enforcement agencies might be able to watch him or alert unsuspecting families to him.

It is not too late for California church officials to act responsibly to protect others. They should immediate send all their personnel files about O’Grady to Portugal prosecutors. They should urge their colleagues in Ireland, Portugal and the Netherlands to aggressively publicize these charges. And church officials in all of these places should use church websites, parish bulletins and pulpit announcements to beg victims, witnesses and whistleblowers to contact secular authorities.

CONTACT: Zach Hiner, Executive Director (zhiner@snapnetwork.org, 517-974-9009)

(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)


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