The quote goes “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” As a society, we often turn to various religions as the source of our morality and goodness. But each faith shares one central flaw — those who follow it are regular, imperfect people.
If you can count on people to do anything, you can count on them to make mistakes and bad decisions. When one clergyman told his story, the world would come to find out just how the inaction of good men let evil run wild…
Born to Serve
From a young age, one thing was certain for Oliver: he wanted to be a priest. Born in Limerick, Ireland, the Catholic Church was always a big part of his and his family’s life. He attended services regularly and, when he was old enough, began serving as an altar boy.
Born just as WWII was ending, Oliver finished high school in the mid 60’s. After attending a seminary in Thurles, he was ordained into the priesthood toward the end of the 1960s. Shortly thereafter Oliver, now known as Father O’Grady, was assigned to a church in the United States.
In 1971, Father O’Grady began serving at St. Anne’s Catholic Church in Lodi, California. The bright eyed, charismatic priest was well liked and over the years, became a cornerstone of the church community.
Father O’Grady helped his parish not just with their spiritual enlightenment and absolution. He served in other ways as well, including outreach for the poor and working at a church run summer camp.
It was approximately 5 years after he arrived at St. Anne’s that Father O’Grady would invite one member of his parish to spend a night at his rectory. The person he invited was an 11-year-old girl whom he’d met at the summer camp. Father O’Grady was so well-trusted that her parents had no objections to this invitation.
While she was at the rectory, Father O’Grady did something that perhaps only the Almighty could forgive. “I remember going into her bed, and I tried to caress her and fondle her,” Father O’Grady said in his own words…
“I sensed her objections to that, nonverbally, and I stayed for a little while more and then decided not to continue. So I left and went back to my own bed,” O’Grady said, estimating that he had spent no more than 20 minutes in the girl’s bed.
Obviously, just 20 minutes is 20 minutes too many. When the little girl told her parents, they complained to Bishop Merlin Guilfoyle. When Bishop Guilfoyle confronted O’Grady, he confessed both to the bishop and to God…
Letter of Apology
After his confession, O’Grady wrote a letter of apology to the young girl’s family against Bishop Guilfoyle’s wishes. Then… nothing. There was no punishment for O’Grady’s actions whatsoever. He wasn’t even moved to a different parish. “Life just continued,” O’Grady said.
According to O’Grady, he too had been molested as a child, by two priests in the sacristy of his church and by members of his own family. The first time had been when he was 10 years old, serving as an altar boy. “It was not a very pleasant experience on some occasions, but it was a very normal thing. Nobody talked about it,” he said. “I did not consider it a very serious criminal matter.” …
While being the victim of abuse was a terrible thing for O’Grady, it did not excuse him from perpetuating the same sort of abuse onto others. O’Grady should have been immediately removed from a place where he could harm children and appropriately punished for his actions.
Instead, O’Grady remained a priest in California for a total of 20 years. He said that he had sexually abused some 25 different children in a documentary released in 2006 called ‘Deliver Us From Evil’. In it, he described nearly every aspect of his despicable behavior, including how he lured children in…
Looking directly into the camera, the lascivious O’Grady gave a gentle smile and softened his voice as he demonstrated his diabolical technique. “Hi, Sally,” O’Grady improvised. “How are you doing? Come here. I want to give you a hug. You are a sweetheart. You know that. You are very special to me. I like you a lot.” If the child didn’t resist his hug, O’Grady took that as “permission” to abuse them.
O’Grady said that after each molestation, he would go to a priest and confess his sins. Despite this network of people who knew what he was doing, O’Grady’s abuses remained secret from the public for years, until, in 1984, someone came forward…
O’Grady had a therapist whom he had told previously about his attraction to young boy’s and girls. But when O’Grady told the therapist about an incident in which he fondled a young boy, the therapist immediately reported the incident to child welfare officials, sparking a police investigation.
During the deposition, O’Grady took the 5th Amendment when asked what he’d discussed with his therapist. The child that he’d allegedly molested was asleep at the time of the incident and said he was unaware of any abuse. As a result, police declined to press charges. Court records showed, however, that a lawyer for the diocese promised O’Grady would be transferred to a job away from children and would be sent to therapy…
O’Grady was transferred to another California Parish, that didn’t have a school, but he still saw hundreds of children on the weekends when they would come to study the catechism. The “therapy” he received was a summary examination that essentially said there wasn’t a problem.
O’Grady continued abusing children as normal, some of them being his victims for years at a time. He also admitted to having relations with 2 of the mothers of the children he abused. His abuses continued until 1993 when two brothers he’d abused came forward…
Decade of Terror
The two brothers claimed that O’Grady had repeatedly molested them between 1978 and 1991, from ages 3 to 13. He was convicted on 4 counts of “lewd and lascivious acts” and served 7 years of a 14 year sentence before being deported back to Ireland in 2000. The two brothers’ family sued the Church and were ultimately awarded $7 million.
But much like the Catholic Church, the prison system did little to reform O’Grady from his evil ways. In 2010, he was arrested in Dublin for possession of child pornography. Some of the victims were as young as 2 years old. He was sentenced to just 3 years in prison thereafter.