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Lawsuits filed against Lodi's St. Anne's, Stockton Diocese

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Posted: Wednesday, January 3, 2007 10:00 pm

Two new clergy abuse lawsuits against St. Anne's Catholic Church and the Stockton Diocese have been filed in San Joaquin County Superior Court, while a third suit was settled for $3 million.

Murty Fahy

One of the new lawsuits involves convicted pedophile Priest Oliver O'Grady, who served at St. Anne's in the 1970s. The other alleges that the late Father Murty Fahy sexually abused a girl in the 1990s.

Fahy, a priest at St. Anne's from 1985 until his death in 2001, allegedly abused a girl an estimated 30 times while she was in second through fifth grades at St. Anne's School in Lodi.

According to the lawsuit, filed Dec. 18, Fahy would have the girl called out of her classroom and sent to the confessional across the street at St. Anne's Catholic Church. The victim, now almost 21, was identified only as "Jane AR Doe" in the lawsuit.

Fahy allegedly arranged the confessional room so that he would see the girl face to face without a dividing screen or curtain. He committed several sexual acts there and at other locations at St. Anne's School, including the music room, according to the lawsuit, filed by Orange County attorney John Manly.

Fahy told the girl at different times that the sexual abuse came as a result of penance or as a reward for good behavior, according to the lawsuit. The complaint also says that Fahy told the girl that his sexual acts happen to bad people and happen to saints.

Stockton Diocese Bishop Stephen Blaire announced the allegations in April, but the Lodi police has closed its investigation of the case because it can't prove Fahy committed any sexual molestations, Lt. Bill Barry said Tuesday.

Sister Terry Davis of the Stockton Diocese said Wednesday that diocese officials cannot comment on the Fahy or O'Grady cases because of pending litigation.

The lawsuit was filed against St. Anne's Catholic Church, St. Anne's School, Stockton Diocese and the Oblates of Saint Francis De Sales - Toledo/Detroit Province. The Oblates train and supervise priests, nuns and lay people throughout the United States, according to the suit.

The O'Grady suit, filed on Dec. 22, alleges that he sexually abused a boy between the ages of 8 and 11, identified only as "John DHD Doe," from 1973 to 1976.

O'Grady was featured in a documentary titled "Deliver Us From Evil," which was released worldwide and played at the Lodi Stadium 12 for three weeks beginning Nov. 3.

While the movie was being filmed, O'Grady sent the plaintiff a letter confessing and apologizing for his sexual abuse, Manly said Wednesday.

O'Grady was a priest at St. Anne's from 1971 to 1978. After serving at four other parishes in the Stockton Diocese, O'Grady pleaded guilty in 1993 to four counts of sexual abuse with children under 14, in Calaveras County. He was paroled from Mule Creek State Prison in Ione in late 2000 and deported to his native Ireland a short time later.

Defendants in the O'Grady case are St. Anne's, Stockton Diocese and the Archdiocese of Cashel, and Emly in Thurles, Ireland, where O'Grady went to seminary before moving to California.

Plaintiffs in both cases are asking for damages to be determined at trial, past and future lost earnings, court costs and attorney fees.

The woman, whose name was not disclosed, said that O'Grady sexually abused her between the ages of 7 and 9 at Church of the Presentation in Stockton between 1981 and 1984.

However, an Alameda County judge ruled that the Archdiocese of Cashel and Emly, where O'Grady attended seminary in Ireland, was dropped as a defendant, saying it didn't have jurisdiction in the case.

Manly said he will appeal the ruling dropping the Irish archdiocese.

Contact reporter Ross Farrow at rossf@lodinews.com.

First published: Thursday, January 4, 2007

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