Mike Kueber's Blog

July 17, 2012

“Deliver Us From Evil” and Penn State

Filed under: Law/justice,Religion — Mike Kueber @ 3:41 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Deliver Us From Evil is a 2006, Academy-nominated documentary that tells the story of a Catholic priest, Oliver O’Grady, who molested children in his Northern California parishes between the late 70s and early 90s.  When the allegations of abuse were made to diocese authorities, the authorities responded by stifling the allegations and quietly transferring the priest to another parish.  O’Grady’s various bishops, including soon-to-be Cardinal Mahoney, displayed little interest in learning whether the allegations were true and even less in helping the victims.  Sound familiar?

As I was watching this movie, I couldn’t help but notice its striking similarity with the Penn State scandal.  According to the filmmaker, then-Bishop Mahony’s dominant interest was in protecting his pristine image so that he could be promoted to Archbishop and later Cardinal of Los Angeles.  Similarly, the Penn State leadership appears to have been focused, as alleged in Freeh’s report, on protecting the image of Penn State and treating the offender in a humane way, not in having the allegations investigated, helping the victims, or preventing future assaults.

Eventually, the law caught up with Oliver O’Grady in Calaveras County, California, and he received a 14-year sentence.  After doing his time, O’Grady was deported to Ireland, where at the end of the movie he seemed to have come to terms with his criminal past.  But his victims, at least those appearing in the film, were not doing as well.  They were bitter and angry at O’Grady and the Church.   

Rotten Tomato critics give Deliver Us From Evil one of the highest scores ever – 100% of 72 reviews; the audience scored it at a solid 79%.  This documentary is so compelling because of its extensive interviews with several victims, their parents, and O’Grady, plus the filmed deposition testimony of key players, including Cardinal Mahony.  I agree with the critics and give it four stars out of four. 

Incidentally, Wikipedia reports that O’Grady, like most pedophiles, has been unable to conform his conduct to the law and was sentenced earlier this year to three years in prison in Ireland for possession of child pornography. 

Incidentally, it’s hard not to see a possible analogy between Cardinal Mahony’s conduct in this story and the conduct of Joe Paterno in dealing with Jerry Sandusky – i.e., don’t go to the police, be humane to the perpetrator, and ignore the victims.  But let’s let the facts come out before we string some one up.

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