AMSTERDAM — The Dutch Catholic Church is rejecting criticism for failing to check the background of former Stockton Diocese priest Oliver O'Grady, a volunteer there who'd served a seven-year prison sentence in the United States for child abuse.
O'Grady did volunteer work for a Rotterdam church for less than two years, and left the Netherlands in February before his identity became known.
A statement from the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests in the United States said the Dutch church "should be severely disciplined for failing to do even the most simple background check on this dangerous predator."
Peter Kohnen, the Dutch Bishop's Conference's spokesman, said Monday the community was "shocked" to learned about O'Grady, but the diocese had no obligation to investigate a volunteer.
O'Grady served at several parishes during his 20 years with the Stockton Diocese, including St. Anne's in Lodi, St. Anthony's in Hughson, St. Andrew's in San Andreas, Church of the Presentation in Stockton and Sacred Heart in Turlock.
He has been accused of molesting boys and girls in his parishes, and his transfers to other parishes date from the mid-1970s. He pleaded guilty in 1993 to four counts of lewd and lascivious acts with minors and served seven years in prison before being deported to his native Ireland.
According to IrishCentral.com, O'Grady was unmasked in Holland weeks ago after a 2006 documentary called "Deliver us from Evil" was finally shown in the country. The documentary is based on his activities while in America and the priest was immediately recognized.
According to the filmmaker Amy Berg, who made "Deliver Us from Evil" and who was contacted by local Dutch parishioners, O'Grady was contacted by Dutch police officers that had been tipped off by his neighbors who had seen an advertisement for the film, IrishCentral.com reported.
"O'Grady quickly disguised himself and fled, taking a train from Rotterdam to Schtipol, the Netherlands main airport. He managed to catch the last plane out of Amsterdam on Aer Lingus, the news agency reported.
"Needless to say, the community was terrified and is still in a state of panic and shock. Another family told me they had been very close friends with O'Grady and had even traveled with him along with their nine-month-old child," Berg wrote on her blog.
IrishCentral.com, based in New York with editorial staff in Ireland, was founded by Niall O'Dowd, who runs The Irish Voice newspaper and Irish America Magazine.