O’Grady, who has been described as the Hannibal Lecter of the clerical world, was released from prison in Ireland last April having served a three-year sentence for possession of child porn images.
The evil priest was caged in January 2012 after he accidentally left his lap-top on an Aer Lingus flight, which gardai later found to contain explicit pictures of children, some as young as two.
O’Grady was exposed as a serial rapist in the early ’90s when, while living in the United States, he was caged for 14 years after admitting to abusing two young brothers. He was paroled after seven years before being deported home in 2000.
But this week there was nothing in the soft-spoken pensioner’s appearance to suggest he abused dozens of kids and collected a huge stash of child porn.
The Sunday World can reveal that O’Grady has been living anonymously in a Waterford city flat since leaving prison. But neighbours in the apartment block shared by families with young children have no idea of his sickening crimes.
This week he tried to play down his past crimes when approached.
“Why would you want to talk to me?” he asked.
When told that it was because of his history of child abuse, he replied: “That’s a long time ago now.”
He denied that he is still a danger to children, saying: “No, not at all.”
His answer to whether he is in contact with the probation services was: “That would be the normal procedure, yes.”
And asked if people had anything to fear from him he replied, “No, they haven’t. Okay?” and disappeared back into the Post Office on the city quays. Despite his advanced years, O’Grady quickly spotted the Sunday World photographer as he went about his business in the city centre.
He darted up a side-street, where he pulled up his hood and then doubled-back, checking over his shoulder to see if he was being followed. The brief exchange this week was in sharp contrast to the interviews he gave to filmmaker Amy Berg for her award-winning film Deliver Us From Evil. He left no doubt that he was still sexually attracted to young boys and girls.
O’Grady said he wanted the film to serve as the “most honest confession” of his life. He detailed how he preyed on children and said that Church officials knew about his abuses but protected him by moving him from parish to parish. The Church authorities in the U.S. were ordered to pay $30 million in damages, later reduced to $7 million on appeal.
O’Grady confirmed that his bishop knew that there were claims that he had abused children in 1976 and before, and that the diocese responded by transferring him to another parish. He claimed in the documentary to be in regular contact with garda authorities.
In a 2005 videotaped deposition, O’Grady claimed he abused as many as 25 children in and around northern California. He admitted being sexually aroused by looking at children in underwear or swim suits. He said he preferred boys and girls between eight and 10 years old who were “slim-built, affectionate and playful”, not those who were “forward and |aggressive”.
Born in Limerick, O’Grady was ordained into the priesthood at a seminary in Thurles during the late 1960s. He emigrated to the United States in 1971 where he served as a priest at St Anne’s Catholic Church in Lodi, California, until 1978.
He has claimed to have been himself molested by a priest at the age of 10, and that he was involved in sexual abuse in his own family, both as perpetrator and victim. In 1993, he was convicted on four counts of abusing two young brothers between 1978 and 1991 and was sentenced to 14 years in prison in 1993. He was paroled after seven years and deported back to Ireland.
Before his release, Bishop Stephen Blaire negotiated a deal in which O’Grady would voluntarily leave the priesthood in exchange for a pension that would begin payments when the ex-priest turned 65. In October, 2007, the rented house where he was living in Dundalk was burgled and damaged. He then moved to Holland, but was forced to flee after the documentary aired in that country and alerted shocked neighbours to his true identity.
He had been living in Rotterdam where he volunteered at a Catholic parish, calling himself ‘Brother Francis’. On his return to Ireland in 2010 he accidentally left his laptop on an Aer Lingus flight, which was later found to have a stash of sickening child porn on its hard-drive. O’Grady had 280,000 explicit images of children stored on computers and USB drives, some depicting victims as young as two.
Gardaí also found over six hours of videos and over 500 pages of online discussions on the subject of child porn. Last April he was driven from Arbour Hill by the prison chaplain, avoiding waiting photographers. Until now, his whereabouts had not been widely known.
Nancy Sloan (above), one of O’Grady’s early victims and co-director of the Stockton chapter of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, previously expressed her fears about O’Grady.
When told of his arrest in Ireland possessing child porn in 2010, she told reporters: “Sadly, I am not surprised that Oliver O’Grady is again committing crimes against children. It’s what we have known and feared for years.”
“I am horrified he is out on bail and very afraid for any children whose path he crosses. He needs to be locked up forever,” she added at the time.