Sunday 13 October 2019

Payout has huge implications for the O'Grady case

A MULTIMILLION euro payout by the Catholic Church in the United States to sex abuse victims is likely to have huge implications in the dispute involving Irish paedophile ex-priest Oliver O'Grady.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles has agreed to pay $660m (€478m) to 500 victims of sexual abuse dating back as far as the 1940s, in the largest compensation deal of its kind. Last night it emerged that the settlement could affect a compensation case involving the notorious Irish priest.

Los Angeles attorney John Manly is pursuing a high-profile case against O'Grady, even though a Californian court recently dismissed a suit against the archdiocese of Cashel and Emly for ordaining O'Grady 36 years ago.

The court in San Joaquin, Orange County, ruled that there was no admissible evidence that the Irish archdiocese knew that Limerick-born O'Grady had a propensity to molest children when he was ordained at St Patrick's College, Thurles.

It also exonerated the late Archbishop of Cashel and Emly, Thomas Morris, of knowing that the ordination of the now 60-year-old "would give him a position of authority that would permit him to cause harm in other locations".

But Mr Manly vowed to appeal the O'Grady case and seek permission to conduct discovery of what the archdiocese knew about the circumstances leading to O'Grady's ordination. However, the Archbishop of Cashel and Emly, Dermot Clifford, has repeatedly insisted that if O'Grady's paedophile tendencies had been known by either the authorities in Thurles or the late Dr Morris, he would not have been ordained.

Dr Clifford welcomed the Californian court decision that there was "no credible evidence" to take a case against the archdiocese. When O'Grady completed his studies at St Patrick's College in 1971, he was ordained as a priest for Stockton diocese and moved to California. He served seven years in prison after being convicted in 1993 of abusing 23 young people, including a nine-month-old infant. American church authorities have paid out more than $23m in compensation.

After he was released and defrocked, O'Grady moved to Ireland but was not listed on the sex offenders' register here. Late last year, O'Grady achieved further notoriety when he co-operated in an award-winning Hollywood film about his paedophilia. Meanwhile, the cost of settlement claims to victims of clerical child abuse paid by the Dublin archdiocese has risen to €7.8m, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin disclosed this year.

This consisted of €5.6m in settlements and €2.2m in legal costs for both sides.

Archbishop Martin has identified 147 priests and members of religious orders against whom allegations were made or suspicions raised of child sex abuse since 1940.

This is an increase of 45 on the 102 priests and religious identified last year.

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