A San Andreas woman has filed a lawsuit against the Stockton Catholic Diocese and defrocked priest Oliver O’Grady, claiming she was molested as a child by O’Grady while he served at St. Andrew’s Parish two decades ago.
The alleged victim, now 31, says O’Grady molested her when she was 11 and 12 years old from 1991 to 1992, according to the lawsuit, which was announced to the public Sunday by the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, also known as SNAP.
The complaint for damages filed in San Joaquin County Superior Court in August also names several parishes under the Stockton Diocese, where it claims criminal allegations against O’Grady were known but not reported to law enforcement.
A now 25-year-old Bay Area man filed a similar lawsuit in May, saying the former priest abused him in 1992 — one year before O’Grady was convicted of four counts of lewd and lascivious acts against two other boys.
Both plaintiffs are being represented by Sacramento attorney Joseph George, who said the female plaintiff in the latest lawsuit didn’t tell anyone about the alleged abuse until this February but never repressed her memories of it.
“Even though everybody knew O’Grady because of the publicity, sex abuse victims sometimes keep quiet for other reasons and she did,” George explained. “It wasn’t until it was causing some other problems in her life that she told her mother.”
O’Grady in 1993 was convicted of molesting two Turlock brothers while assigned to a church in that San Joaquin Valley town. He served seven years in Mule Creek State Prison in Ione before being paroled in 2000 and deported to his native Ireland.
O’Grady’s crimes were also the focus of an Academy Award-nominated 2006 documentary “Deliver Us From Evil,” in which he can be seen boasting of molesting dozens of children as early as 1973.
He is currently serving three years in an Irish prison for a conviction earlier this year on charges of possessing child pornography.
George said his client filed the lawsuit under a state law giving victims of childhood abuse born after Jan. 1, 1977, an additional three years under the statute of limitations after connecting current adult psychological injuries with the prior traumatic experiences.
“She’s a classic example of why the statue was extended,” George said. “There’s probably another dozen or so O’Grady victims who may qualify if they are over 26 and born after that date.”
The woman says she was molested while O’Grady babysat her in her own home, and that the Stockton Diocese allowed this behavior by failing to inform law enforcement about other complaints against O’Grady around the same time.
The plaintiff claims she’s suffered physical, mental and emotional health problems that she’ll have to be treated for and will negatively impact her earning capacity in the future, according to the lawsuit.
She’s seeking damages for future medical and therapy expenses, physical and mental pain and suffering, and for past and future lost wages, the complaint stated.
George said his client’s lawsuit was filed in August, before a new lawsuit was filed against former priest Michael Kelly and the Stockton Diocese.
In that case, a now-24-year-old man alleges he was molested by Kelly while the ex-priest was at St. Andrew’s Parish between 2000 and 2002. That lawsuit further alleges the Stockton Diocese actively conspired to place Kelly at a church in a “remote location” such as San Andreas in order to conceal complaints of misconduct at other churches.
The diocese in April settled a lawsuit for $3.75 million with a Fairfax man who claimed he was molested by Kelly while an altar boy at a Stockton parish in the mid-1980s. Kelly also ministered for a time at St. Patrick’s Parish in Sonora from 1987 to 1997.
Kelly testified in court during the trial but left the country for his native Ireland after a jury found him liable of the sex abuse allegations. In a letter to Stockton Bishop Stephen Blaire, Kelly cited stress-related health problems as his reason for leaving the country in the middle of the trial.
Around that time, the Calaveras County Sheriff’s Office announced it was conducting a criminal investigation of Kelly based at least partially on the claims made by the plaintiff in the latest lawsuit.
The Sheriff’s Office submitted its reports to the Calaveras County District Attorney’s Office, which is still investigating the matter and has yet to file charges.
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