AMSTERDAM – AMSTERDAM (AP) — The Dutch Catholic Church rejected criticism Monday for failing to check the background of a volunteer who had served a seven-year prison sentence in the U.S. for child abuse.
Defrocked Irish priest Oliver O'Grady did volunteer work for a church in Rotterdam for less than two years, and left the Netherlands in February before his identity became known.
O'Grady was the subject of an award-winning 2006 documentary, "Deliver Us from Evil," in which he spoke openly of abusing more than 20 children and acknowledged that he was allowed to remain a priest after confessing to his bishop about the molestation.
A statement from the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests in the U.S. said the Dutch church "should be severely disciplined for failing to do even the most simple background check on this dangerous predator."
Peter Kohnen, spokesman for the Dutch Bishop's Conference, said the community was "shocked" when Dutch television aired the documentary earlier this month and some parishioners recognized O'Grady.
But Kohnen said the diocese had no reason to investigate him, since he was a volunteer and did not seek any official function.
Kohnen said O'Grady helped at a Rotterdam church that catered to expatriates, mainly by selecting the music. No one knew who he was, and he was using a different name.
"If they had checked, they wouldn't have found anything," he said.
O'Grady had a job in Rotterdam working for a fast food restaurant, Kohnen said.
O'Grady was deported to Ireland in 2001 after serving his sentence in a California state prison for molesting two brothers. Since then, the Diocese of Stockton has faced several lawsuits from alleged victims.