Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Diocese pays $2m

Stockton Diocese pays pair $2M
Two siblings settle in O'Grady abuse lawsuits
By Kevin Valine
The Stockton Diocese paid $2 million to a brother and sister to settle their claims that they were abused as children by Oliver O'Grady, the former pedophile priest who served at several Catholic parishes within the diocese, including Sacred Heart in Turlock.

The brother and sister attended the Church of the Presentation in Stockton and Presentation Catholic School. The brother says O'Grady sexually abused him from 1983 to 1985, while his sister says O'Grady abused her from 1981 to 1984, according to their lawsuits filed in San Joaquin County Superior Court in 2006 and 2008.

"Both of them were victims of Oliver O'Grady, and they were abused in the worst possible way," said Beverly Hills attorney Anthony M. Demarco, who represented the brother and sister. "He was taking them out of the classroom at the school and sexually assaulting them."

In this still image taken from video released by filmmaker Amy Berg, defrocked priest Oliver O'Grady is shown here in a public park in Ireland in a scene from her documentary on clergy abuse, "Deliver Us From Evil." Berg focuses on O'Grady's relationship with Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony, who was his bishop in Stockton, Calif., in the early 1980s when O'Grady confessed to at least one instance of molestation. (AP Photo/ Damian Dovarganes)Deliver Us From Evil. CREDIT:Lionsgate EntertainmentCLICK FOR MORE PHOTOS

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The brother and sister are only identified as John JK Doe and Jane LA Doe in the lawsuits. Demarco said he believes they still live in San Joaquin County.

The Stockton Diocese, which has about 40 parishes in the Northern San Joaquin Valley, foothills and Sierra Nevada, released a statement Tuesday confirming the settlement.

"On June 16, 2010, the Diocese of Stockton resolved two outstanding lawsuits regarding childhood sexual abuse by Oliver O'Grady," it stated. "The lawsuits were settled jointly for a total of $2 million. Of this sum, the diocese paid $664,667.00. The remainder of the settlement was paid from insurance proceeds. The diocese continues to assist in healing the victims of clergy sexual abuse."

O'Grady arrived at the Stockton Diocese from Ireland in 1971 when he was 25 years old and served parishes in Turlock, San Andreas and Hughson, among others.

Despite at least two reports of child sexual abuse, O'Grady continued to serve as a priest until 1993, when he was arrested, and later convicted, of molesting two brothers from Merced.

He spent seven years in prison before he was released in November 2000 and deported to Ireland.

Before his release, Stockton Bishop Stephen Blaire negotiated a deal: O'Grady would voluntarily leave the priesthood in exchange for an annuity that would begin payments when the ex-priest turned 65.

That annuity, worth about $95,000, started paying $780 monthly to O'Grady in June.

In the years since his criminal conviction, the diocese has settled 23 lawsuits filed against O'Grady, paying $20.7 million to his victims.

Dispute in other case

The most recent settlement came to light Tuesday after a Modesto court hearing for the siblings' brother, who filed a lawsuit in August against the diocese and O'Grady in Stanislaus County Superior Court.

Diocese attorneys are trying to get the lawsuit dismissed, saying it was filed after the statute of limitations had expired. The judge made no decision Tuesday, and a hearing will be held early next year.

In his lawsuit, the brother claims O'Grady sexually assaulted him while he was a parishioner and student at Stockton parish from 1978 through 1987. The lawsuit does not name the parish.

The lawsuit also names a Turlock parish as a defendant. O'Grady served at Sacred Heart in Turlock before his work at the Church of Presentation and Presentation Catholic School in Stockton.

The brother is identified as John JS Doe in the lawsuit.

The lawsuits for the three siblings claim the diocese was aware or should have been aware of O'Grady's behavior and failed to stop him.

"It's pretty well-known that the diocese had plenty of warning," said Demarco, the Beverly Hills attorney.

O'Grady was arrested in Dublin, Ireland, on Friday and charged with possession of thousands of images of child pornography.

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