Thursday, April 29, 2010

Church 'hush money' for paedophile ex-priest

Oliver O’Grady, the ex-Irish priest convicted of paedophile offences who was living under a false identity in the Netherlands until February this year, receives a monthly pension from the Roman Catholic church, it has been revealed.

A US lawyer who represented O’Grady’s victims says the former cleric brokered a “sinister deal” in which he refused to testify against senior church officials at his child sex abuse trial in return for cash.

Lawyer Jeff Anderson told Radio Netherlands Worldwide that Oliver O’Grady was offered the money by senior members of his diocese the night before his trial.

As a result, he never testified in court against bishop Roger Mahony – now the Archbishop of Los Angeles – who was later found by the jury to have known all along about O’Grady’s abuse, but did nothing about it.

'Hush money'

Jeff Anderson described the annuity – believed to be a monthly payment for life as well as a lump sum to be paid at a later date - as “the worst kind of hush money” saying it has enabled O’Grady to move around the world undetected:

“This is extremely upsetting for the survivors of his abuse who are many in number… It was very upsetting to see him refuse to testify and then still not testify when he was ordered by the courts.”

Despite his decision not to testify, O’Grady was found guilty of sexual abuse and spent seven years behind bars. After being extradited to Ireland he moved to Rotterdam in the Netherlands, where he lived until February this year. The former priest’s identity only came to light a few weeks ago, after the airing on Dutch television of a 2006 documentary about him called Deliver Us From Evil.

Amy Berg, who directed Deliver Us From Evil says she has spoken to a family in Rotterdam and is concerned about O’Grady’s motives:

“The thing that scared me the most is this picture that I got where he was standing around a group of young girls, staring at them as this young baby had just gotten baptised… I started making calls and enquiries and it sounded like he has immersed himself in the way he had in California.”

Repeating a pattern

Ms Berg, who got to know O’Brady well during the filming of the documentary, told Radio Netherlands Worldwide there were other similarities between his life in California – where he committed the abuse – and his situation in Rotterdam:

“He had become very close with a family that had very similar characteristics with the Gionno family who I profiled in my film. There was an Irish mother and he was travelling with them and they had a little baby. There were a lot of things that I know from all the time I spent with Oliver would be temptations for him.”

“I can’t say what he was doing, I just know that his history is that he’s abused possibly up to 100 children in America and he did tell me he still had temptations…So right now it’s just a big question mark unfortunately.”

No proof

Rotterdam police say there is no evidence O’Grady committed further offences during his time in the Netherlands, confirming they were aware of his background and paid him monthly visits the whole time he was here.

Amy Berg says it’s not enough, and argues the church in Rotterdam where he was a parishioner should have carried out better checks:

“In 2003 the Vatican, through numerous different countries, released a statement that they were going to start screening out all volunteers and lay officials for their history. Had the church where Oliver was volunteering in Rotterdam done such a thing, I don’t think that they ethically would have allowed him to be in those situations with children.

“I just think it’s a huge temptation so I think they need to identify people they have been shuffling around. It’s clear they’re still priests out there that have abused that are still in different churches and I think they have to be proactive about this and come forward with all the information.”

SIC: RNW

1 comment:

Aquinas said...

I cannot understand why the church holds on to a convicted paedophile.
Surely this is sending out the wrong message.

Excommunication can be the only way forward.