Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Proud moments in religious thought and action

Former Roman Catholic priest Oliver O'Grady, convicted in 1993 on four counts of lewd and lascivious acts on minors, granted filmmaker Amy Berg unlimited access.

During the film, O'Grady details how he preyed on children, how the Diocese of Stockton, California, knew about the abuse, and how O'Grady claims church officials allowed him to abuse children for two decades by moving him from parish to parish instead of removing him from ministry.

"I want to promise myself this is going to be the most honest confession of my life," O'Grady said in the film. "And in doing that, I need to make a long journey back, understanding what I did and to acknowledge that. And in some ways make reparations for that."

The filming of O'Grady takes place in Dublin, Ireland, where he is now a free man after serving seven years in prison. The former priest was deported to his native Ireland after his release.

Chilling scenes

Some of the most chilling scenes show O'Grady as he freely walks the streets of Dublin. At one point the former priest views an art display near little children and peers over the fence of a children's playground.

O'Grady said he started abusing children when he arrived in California in 1976 and spent time in the home of parishioners who had a 5-year old daughter named Ann.

"Ann Jyono," O'Grady recalled. "Little Ann was one of the first people I met there."

Ann Jyono and her parents are interviewed in the film. At one point Bob Jyono recalls the emotional breakdown his family went through, when they realized years later that Oliver O'Grady had molested his daughter while a guest in his home.

Prayers by day, rape by night

"He was in here saying morning prayers, during the nighttime he's molesting my daughter," a tearful Bob Jyono said in the film. "Raping her," he continues, "not molesting her -- raping her. At 5 years old. How can that happen? That's just what he did."

Records show church officials knew about O'Grady's alleged molestation as far back as 1976. Church officials did not tell police about prior abuse when O'Grady was being investigated for abuse in 1984.

In a deposition, Monsignor James Cain, one of O'Grady's superiors, tried to explain why he did not tell police about the earlier allegations.

"Certainly I knew the one in '76 took place but didn't put the two together," Cain said. "One was a girl -- inappropriate touching, the other was a boy. So I just didn't hook them up in my own mind."

Monsignor Cain was being deposed about the 1984 allegations in a lawsuit against the Diocese of Stockton, which was led at the time by Roger Mahony currently Archbishop of Los Angeles.

It was during this time O'Grady was moved for a second time, to a remote parish in San Andreas, California, where the abuse allegedly continued.

In February of 2004, Cardinal Mahony issued a report to his faithful on more than seven decades of clergy sexual abuse in Los Angeles. Mahony said he did not fully understand the nature of pedophilia. He did not believe offenders, once confronted, would offend again. He admits that was a mistake.


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