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.
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.
Accusations of inappropriate or criminal behavior toward children followed McCabe, even as he shuttled between Dublin and various California towns, according to the 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.
Church directories confirm that McCabe was in Eureka and Guerneville when the report lists the priest, whose name was redacted from the 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.
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 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.
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.
The acting Archbishop in Dublin confirmed the rumors were true. McCabe was kicked out of the program and the diocese, 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 he 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 allowed him to leave Ireland to return to California.
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. However, because McCabe was no longer in Ireland, but California, the Irish authorities couldn’t do much without bringing official charges.
McCabe’s extradition from California to Ireland is pending.
Douglas McNabb and other members of the firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, Interpol Litigation, International Extradition and OFAC Litigation.
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