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Priest seeks release in extradition fight over sexual assault charges

AN Irish priest in jail in the US will challenge attempts to extradite him back to Ireland to answer sexual assault charges.

Moves to free Fr Patrick Joseph McCabe (75) from custody will be made tomorrow at a hearing in San Francisco's Federal Court.

Fr McCabe -- who faces charges that he sexually assaulted six boys in Ireland from 1973 to 1981 -- was arrested in early August in San Francisco on foot of an extradition warrant.

He has been held without bail since then in Santa Rita jail, the third largest prison in California, which can accommodate up to 4,000 inmates.

Fr McCabe's attorney, Robert Beles, told the Irish Independent that his client would be fighting and contesting the extradition proceedings.

He also revealed that an attempt would be made to obtain Fr McCabe's release from custody pending the extradition proceedings.

Under the extradition arrest warrant, the presumption was that he should be detained in custody pending the transfer request.

However, Mr Beles said there was precedent in another case for releasing a person pending the extradition process.

Fr McCabe was one of the oldest inmates in Santa Rita jail and should not be detained there, he said.

"The problem is, he is in deteriorating health. He has diabetes and a lot of serious health problems. He is not a danger to anybody."

Promising to challenge the extradition proceedings, he said Fr McCabe had been in the US for more than 20 years and the allegations went back about 35 years.


"We don't believe there is a case," Mr Beles said.

Meanwhile, a civil lawsuit is pending against the diocese of Santa Rosa, California, where Fr McCabe served as an assistant pastor at St Bernard's Church in Eureka between 1983 and 1985.

The US plaintiff, referred to only as John Doe 76, alleges he was sexually molested by Fr McCabe in 1984 in St Bernard's Church after the priest removed him from his third grade class in the local school. In his lawsuit, it is claimed that the Archdiocese of Dublin sent Fr McCabe to the US after receiving complaints of abuse from young boys.

According to the document, Archbishop Dermot Ryan of Dublin spoke with Bishop Mark Hurley of Santa Rosa in 1983 "to allow McCabe to run St Bernard's Catholic Church in Eureka".

The man's lawyer claimed last month that the late Archbishop Ryan did a deal with Bishop Hurley to "dump" Fr McCabe on unsuspecting parishioners in the US diocese.

Irish Independent