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Irish Catholic Bishops Media Centre - Press Release 3rd January 2007

Claims against the Archdiocese of Cashel & Emly dismissed in California lawsuit concerning former priest Oliver O’Grady

Over the last six months there have been stories in many newspapers and on the radio concerning the efforts of a lawyer in California to sue the Archdiocese of Cashel & Emly in a California court in order to hold the Archdiocese of Cashel & Emly responsible for conduct of a former California priest named Oliver O’Grady. On December 27, 2006, the California court found that, “There is no admissible evidence that Cashel & Emly knew that O’Grady had a propensity to molest children.”

Oliver O’Grady was born in Limerick and lived there with his family until he completed secondary school. He then enrolled in St Patrick’s College in Thurles in 1964 to study for the priesthood and was sponsored in his studies by the Diocese of Stockton, California. When Oliver O’Grady completed his studies at St Patrick’s College in 1971 he was ordained as a priest for the service of Stockton California and moved to California to begin his ministry. He was never a priest of any Diocese in Ireland.

During the last six months many inflammatory accusations have been made concerning the knowledge and the conduct of church officials in Ireland concerning Oliver O’Grady. These accusations have been reported in many newspapers and on the radio. The source of most of these accusations is Patrick Wall, a former Benedictine monk, who is now employed by the lawyer who has pursued these claims against the Archdiocese of Cashel & Emly. Mr Wall has been a guest on radio programmes and has been quoted in most of the newspaper stories about this case.

The most inflammatory accusation made in this matter is that the late Archbishop of Cashel & Emly, the Most Reverend Thomas Morris, knew Oliver O’Grady was a potential abuser of children when he completed his seminary studies and was ordained before he moved to California. This accusation has been conclusively refuted by the court in California which has stated in its order dismissing the case that: “There is no admissible evidence that Cashel & Emly knew that O’Grady had a propensity to molest children and that the ordination of O’Grady would therefore give him a position of authority that would permit him to cause harm in other locations.”

The order of California court also found that Patrick Wall is not a credible witness concerning church procedures or doctrine. In two separate places in the order of the California court, the court states that: “The court finds that the testimony of the defense witnesses on matters of church procedures, doctrine, and Canon Law is more credible than that of Mr. Wall.”

When Archbishop Dermot Clifford learned that the case had been dismissed against the Archdiocese of Cashel & Emly he said: “Naturally I am deeply saddened by the criminal behaviour of Oliver O’Grady in the Diocese of Stockton, California, and I pray that Oliver O’Grady’s victims achieve healing.

“If Oliver O’Grady’s paedophile tendencies had been known by either the authorities in St Patrick’s College, Thurles, or by the former Archbishop of Cashel & Emly, Dr Thomas Morris, Oliver O’Grady would not have been ordained. I am gratified that the court in California has found that the Archdiocese of Cashel & Emly and St Patrick’s College played no knowing role in these events in California and that the court has declared that the accusations that anyone in St Patrick’s College, or at the Archdiocese, knew that Oliver O’Grady might do such a thing are not supported by any credible evidence.”


As this case may be subject to a court appeal in California, Archbishop Dermot Clifford will not be making any further comment at this time.