Convicted Irish priest active in the Netherlands

By our news staff

An Irish priest convicted for sexually abusing children in the United States has been living in the Netherlands and working as a volunteer.

Oliver O'Grady, who was defrocked after his conviction, helped as a deacon at masses at the Church of the Holy Heart in Schiedam. He also volunteered at a women's shelter and worked as an organiser of children's parties, according to a report in the Irish newspaper the Sunday Tribune.

O'Grady was at the centre of one of the biggest paedophilia cases in the Roman Catholic Church. In 1993, he was convicted of raping two underage brothers. He was accused of abusing over 20 boys and girls, including a baby. After having served half of his 14 year sentence, he was deported to Ireland in 2000.

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O'Grady came to the Netherlands in 2008 and volunteered at the church, which serves the expatriate community in Rotterdam, under his second name, Francis. Parishioners of the Christ our Savior community recognised him in the documentary Deliver us from evil that was broadcast on Dutch public television earlier this month. In the acclaimed film, for which director Amy Berg received an Oscar nomination, O'Grady told how he molested 25, often very young, children in different parishes in California from the 1970s until the 1990s.

Father Avin Kunnekkadan, a priest at the Roman Catholic church, said he had not known about O'Grady's background. A spokesperson for the church said 'Francis' was there from 2008 until February 2010. "The man came to our parish, came to the services and helped out with the music. He kept to himself. He was in no way in contact with children nor did he seek contact with them. He did work with nuns at a shelter for the homeless, but all he did was help feed people. He just wanted to go to church," the spokesperson said.

The ex-priest had already left the Schiedam church when the news broke. He is said to live in a hostel in Dublin, where he was served a civil action suit by Californian attorneys representing his victims last week, according to the Sunday Tribune.

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