|12 hrs ago|| || ‘Evil’ mastermind |
- Filmmaker tells story of priest busted in sexual abuse scandal
Notall wolves approach their victims in the guise of sheep. Some, such asformer Roman Catholic priest Oliver O’Grady, arrive in the clothes of ashepherd and display no qualms about betraying the flock they wereentrusted to protect.
The predatory practices of Father Ollie,as he was known during his residence in several Stockton-area parishes,are detailed in Emmy-winning journalist Amy Berg’s piercingdocumentary, “Deliver Us From Evil.” In addition to revisiting thecrimes committed by one of the most notorious of all pedophile priests— imprisoned for seven years, but residing in Dublin — the film focuseson those left permanently scarred by the sexual abuse and churchleaders who believed a change of scenery would cure O’Grady’s disease.
Specifically,Berg points her finger at Cardinal Roger Mahony, who was in charge ofthe Stockton diocese before being named archbishop of Los Angeles. Ifhe had acted quickly and decisively to protect parishioners from thismenace, Berg argues, dozens of young people — and their parents — mightnot have had their lives and faith altered so dramatically.
Mahonydeclined her invitation to discuss the case for the film, but, alongwith a key aide, he appears in a deposition videotaped for use in alawsuit brought by a pair of brothers molested by O’Grady between 1978and 1991. His evasive responses failed to impress the jury, which, in1998, ruled against the Diocese of Stockton by awarding the brothers$30 million in damages.
Neither does the longtimesegment-producer for CNN, CBS and ABC spare newly installed PopeBenedict, who, before he took office, presided over high-level Vaticancommittees looking into priestly abuse. Ultimately, the committee ofbishops washed their hands of the whole sordid mess, not only promptinglawsuits from victims but also prompting President George W. Bush togrant the pontiff immunity from prosecution here.
“I wanted togo in fresh … not rely on other peoples’ takes on the story,” saidBerg. “This required doing original research and uncovering thedepositions of Mahony and [Vicar of Stockton] Monsignor Cain. Thecontributions of Father Tom Doyle, a canon lawyer and victims-rightsadvocate, and [clergy abuse psychologist] Mary Gail Frawley O’Dea alsowere extremely important.
“I found it interesting that celibacywasn’t required of clergy, even popes, in the early years of thechurch. It came about because their children were getting theinheritances church leaders wanted for themselves.”
“Deliver UsFrom Evil” opened to rave reviews in New York, Los Angeles and Boston,just as congressional investigations into the events surrounding theresignation of U.S. Rep. Mark Foley began to spread beyond theboundaries of Washington, D.C., and Florida. The timing may have beencoincidental, but only a cave dweller could fail to find a parallelbetween the apparent cover-ups of evidence in both the Foley andO’Grady cases.
That Thursday, a priest whom Foley reportedlyaccused of molestation almost four decades ago admitted he fondled thesix-term congressman as a teen. Like O’Grady, his admission of guiltwas less an apology than a textbook example of disassociation. (Thisweek, another Florida altar boy stepped forward to accuse the samepriest of sexual abuse.)
“Once maybe I touched him, but itwasn’t rape or penetration or anything like that … we were justfondling,” said the Rev. Anthony Mercieca, 69, who now lives on theMaltese island of Gozo. “He seemed to like it, you know? So, it wassort of more like a spontaneous thing.”
Unlike O’Grady, who,like Foley, says he was molested as a child, Mercieca has outlasted thestatute of limitations on such crimes and is still a priest. Accordingto Berg, Catholic seminaries have long served as incubators for a“culture of pedophilia,” where young victims of sexual abuse could findshelter before being sent out into a world of which they knewpractically nothing.
It wasn’t until the Boston Archdiocese wasrocked by a similar scandal, in the early ’90s, that rank-and-fileCatholics began accepting the reality that there was a basis in fact toallegations of widespread pedophilia in the clergy. Traditionally, theword of a priest was given far more credence than that of a child.
“Untilthen, cases involving clergy were routinely handled by policechaplains, and little came of them,” Berg said. “That’s all changed.”
Berg’scoup came in her ability to convince O’Grady that some good could comefrom being interviewed for “Deliver Us From Evil.” The creepiness ofhis affectless testimony is compounded by “walk-and-talks” conductedwithin feet of unsuspecting children and parents.
“He blendedright in,” Berg said, admitting the juxtaposition could be seen asmanipulative. “In Dublin, there’s a park every two blocks and childrenare everywhere. There was no way I couldn’t use those shots.”
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.Pedophilia and sexual abuse of children in Australia