Catholic Culture Resources
Catholic Culture Resources

a question of credibility

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Oct 07, 2006

The New York Times reports on a documentary film dealing with pedophile and ex-priest Oliver O'Grady and his superior, then-Bishop of Stockton (CA) Roger Mahony. O'Grady, a slimeball, has cheerfully confessed to his perversities and, somewhat less cheerfully, insisted that Mahony knew about his crimes and kept him in pastoral work all the same. So, who's telling the truth?

Cardinal Mahony, who was the bishop in Stockton from 1980 to 1985, when he was appointed archbishop of Los Angeles, has disputed Mr. O’Grady’s account of events. His spokesman, Tod Tamberg, said Mr. O’Grady’s comments in the documentary were not believable.

“The film rests on the credibility of a convicted child molester who lied to his bishop, to his therapists, to the families of the young people he abused and to law enforcement,” Mr. Tamberg said. “He is the classic pedophile. He lies to conceal his activity from public view.”

OK, at least one of the two principals is lying here. Tamberg is surely right about O'Grady's past, but he doesn't suggest a motive for him to continue lying in the present. What does he stand to gain by falsely implicating his former bishop? If O'Grady's allegations are true, on the other hand, what the bishop in question stands to gain by denial is obvious. After all, the same jurors who were convinced of O'Grady's depravity (and who didn't see the film in question) were less than impressed by Mahony's own testimony, as recounted in Ron Russell's New Times article of September 2002:

In a 1998 civil trial, a Stockton jury awarded two of O'Grady's victims, Joh and James Howard, a $30 million judgment. It was later reduced to $7 million. The verdict was a clear repudiation of Mahony's testimony as the trial's reluctant star witness. Although not directly on trial, he may as well have been. His elusive and legalistic testimony about his handling of O'Grady was a disaster. Several jurors interviewed by New Times say that no one on the 12-member panel believed Mahony about key aspects of the case. After the trial, a female juror -- a lifelong Catholic -- broke down in sobs as she explained her conclusion that the cardinal had lied.

Archbishops don't lie, my dear. They have memory lapses.

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