A former St. Andrew's Catholic Church priest who once confessed to abusing dozens of children in Northern California has been arrested in Portugal under suspicion of child pornography-related offenses in his native Ireland.
Oliver O’Grady, 74, was arrested last month by local police in the Algarve area of Portugal under a European Arrest Warrant and will likely be extradited to Ireland, The Irish Times reported.
The Limerick-born former priest was sentenced to 14 years in prison in 1993 after he was convicted of repeatedly molesting two Turlock, Calif. brothers over the course of more than a decade. However, he was paroled after serving just seven years at Mule Creek State Prison in Ione, deported to Ireland and defrocked as a priest shortly after.
Between the early 1970s and 1990s, O’Grady served as a pastor at Diocese of Stockton parishes in Lodi, Stockton and Turlock, as well as St. Andrew’s in San Andreas.
O’Grady later admitted to molesting more than 20 children during that time in the 2006 documentary film “Deliver Us from Evil.” The documentary alleged that the diocese knowingly concealed the ongoing abuse by moving O’Grady from parish to parish.
In 2010, O’Grady was arrested in Ireland for possession of child pornography. Evidence included thousands of images and video footage of young children on a laptop and an external hard drive. He was sentenced to three years in prison in 2012 and had reportedly been living freely in Ireland before his arrest in Portugal last month.
The Diocese of Stockton filed for bankruptcy in 2014 after facing lawsuits filed by 27 victims of multiple priests, some of whom served and allegedly offended in Calaveras County, The Record reported.
In 2012, a 25-year-old man filed a lawsuit against the diocese claiming that O’Grady had molested him at the age of 5 while the now-defrocked priest was serving at St. Andrew’s.
O’Grady is not the only Roman Catholic priest with a sordid history in San Andreas. Two former altar boys at St. Andrew’s and its mission, Saint Thomas Aquinas Church in Mokelumne Hill, accused another Irish priest, Michael Kelly, of molesting them repeatedly during the early 2000s.
Like O’Grady, Kelly faced prior accusations and was often shuffled between parishes during his time in Northern California.
In 2014, the Calaveras County District Attorney’s Office filed charges against Kelly for four counts of lewd acts upon a child, but the case was dropped when the plaintiff, then a young adult, died in 2016.
Kelly was removed from the diocese after being found liable of assaulting another altar boy in Stockton during a lawsuit filed with the San Joaquin Superior Court. He fled to Ireland shortly after in 2012 while under investigation by the Calaveras County Sheriff’s Office for criminal complaints.