Former priest in California awaits extradition to native Ireland to faces sex abuse charges
SAN FRANCISCO – An Irish priest faces extradition after evading a trail of sex abuse complaints by shuttling between his native country and the U.S., serving in California parishes and eventually retiring in a waterfront suburb.
Patrick Joseph McCabe, 74, faces charges he sexually assaulted six boys in Ireland from 1973 to 1981. He turned himself in to federal authorities July 30 and is being held without bail.
His defense attorney, David Cohen, did not return calls for comment. Dublin authorities and archdiocese officials also declined comment, citing the ongoing investigation.
Details of McCabe's case match those of an unidentified priest described in a 2009 report by Dublin High Court Justice Yvonne Murphy, which set off renewed investigations into the accusations made against McCabe and others. According to the report, 21 people have came forward with complaints against McCabe — none of them in the U.S.
In strong language, the report states that Dermot Ryan and others who followed him as the Archbishop of Dublin understood the complaints against McCabe but allowed him to work in churches.
McCabe's case "encapsulates everything that was wrong with the archdiocesan handling of child sexual abuse cases," Murphy wrote.
Murphy also called the Irish police to task for "effectively stifling one complaint and failing to investigate another, and in allowing (McCabe) to leave the country."
Accusations of inappropriate or criminal behavior toward children followed McCabe, even as he shuttled between Dublin and various California towns, according to the Murphy report, extradition documents and California church officials.
Once abuse complaints surfaced in 1982, the Archdiocese of Dublin sent the priest to the United States for the first time — initially arranging for his treatment in a program for sexual abusers, then securing a position for him in the Diocese of Santa Rosa in California, the report stated.
Ryan knew the bishop there at the time, Mark Hurley, and "asked him to, as it were, 'rid him of this troublesome priest,'" Murphy wrote.
Church directories confirm that McCabe was in Eureka and Guerneville when the report lists the priest, whose name was redacted from the Murphy report, as having been placed there.
Monsignor Gerard Brady, who was head of St. Bernard Catholic Church in Eureka, said he would not have accepted McCabe as an associate pastor had he known about the accusations.
By 1985, allegations against McCabe emerged in Eureka as well. McCabe was pulled from the church. After a brief assignment in Guerneville, Hurley refused to rehire him.
Without a position, McCabe bounced back to Ireland, where he found a temporary assignment filling in for a priest on vacation.
Soon after, in August 1986, he was accused of abusing a 9-year-old boy, whose parents went to the police. But the investigation was dropped. The police chief, from whom McCabe had rented a house that summer, said in the Murphy report that disciplining the priest was a matter for the Archbishop.
A report compiled by the Archbishop in charge shows McCabe acknowledged "hugging and petting" the child. The diocese gave him a check — and sent him back to California.
Within months, the Dublin Archdiocese had taken out insurance to cover itself in "matters of this sort," the Murphy report said.
After a stint in Sebastopol, McCabe arrived in Sacramento in November 1986 to participate in a training program for hospital chaplains, said Sacramento Diocese spokesman Kevin Eckery.
As a courtesy commonly extended to visiting priests, he was also allowed to replace priests who were on vacation, said Eckery.
His supervisor at the hospital — a nun — heard rumors about her charge, and wrote to the Dublin Archdiocese for details.
"These rumors implied that he seeks out young boys for all the wrong reasons," her letter said.
The acting Archbishop in Dublin confirmed the rumors were true. McCabe was kicked out of the program and the diocese, said Eckery.
"He was basically told to get out of town, that he wasn't wanted here," said Eckery.
McCabe continued to apply for positions around the state, the country and Canada, the Murphy report said. While he waited, he took a job at an Irish rural school.
Again, he was accused by a young boy of abuse. Church authorities interned him in a hospital, where was medicated with a drug used to control sexual acting out. By May 1987, authorities in Dublin decided to strip him of his faculties as a priest.
During treatment, McCabe found another job in California working with the homeless in Stockton.
Church officials in Dublin let him go.
"They, in effect, set him loose on the unsuspecting population of Stockton, California," stated the Murphy report.
McCabe's whereabouts weren't known to Irish police again until he was found in 2003 living in Alameda.
Irish police interviewed him in 2007. McCabe denied the claims of abuse but acknowledged to investigators he felt sexually attracted to young boys.
"He met all my requirements to match up my fetish, and I embraced him and fondled him with no further sexual behavior," McCabe said to Irish investigators about one of his alleged victims. That man's complaint, lodged with police in January 1987, was taken to prosecutors but met with a dead end.
By then, McCabe was no longer in Ireland.
"They shuffled him around," Terence McKiernan, of BishopAccountability.org, said of the Catholic Church's handling of such charges. "He's clearly one of the boys. There is a willingness, almost a reflex, to honor those relationships and not to think about the kids."
Associated Press Writer Shawn Pogatchnik in Dublin contributed to this report.