Priest convicted of child sex abuse volunteered in Dutch church

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An Irish priest who was convicted for sex offences against children has been working as a volunteer at a church near the Dutch port city of Rotterdam. The priest, Oliver O'Grady, who was defrocked after his conviction, was helping as a deacon at Masses at the English-speaking Church of the Holy Heart, Christ our Redeemer. He also volunteered at a women's refuge centre.

Found guilty of sexually abusing two brothers, Mr O'Grady spent seven years in a prison in the US, after which he was deported to Ireland. He was also accused of having abused over 20 boys and girls, including a baby.

The church in Schiedam is serving the expatriate community in Rotterdam. A priest at the Roman Catholic church told the press that he did not know about O'Grady's background. Local parishioners told reporters that they were shocked when O'Grady's past history was revealed in a church announcement last week. The ex-priest was using the alias "Brother Francis", and his true identity was only discovered when Dutch TV aired a documentary entitled "Deliver us from evil" earlier this month. 

'No contact with children'
A spokesperson for the church in Schiedam told Radio Netherlands Worldwide that the man was there from 2008 until February 2010.

"The man came to our parish, came to the services and helped out with the music. He kept to himself. He was in no way in contact with children nor did he seek contact with them. He did work with nuns at a shelter for the homeless, but all he did was help feed people. He just wanted to go to church."
Father Avin Kunnekkadan, one of the rotating priests who does services for the community, says "He was not a priest here and probably did not present himself as a priest when he came."
The ex-priest had already left the Schiedam church when the news broke. He is said to live in a hostel in Dublin. Several of his American victims are taking action against O'Grady.
The discovery of the ex-priest's past follows a series of revelations over the past weeks by Radio Netherlands Worldwide and NRC Handelsblad about child sex abuse by Roman Catholic priests and nuns at boarding schools and care homes.


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