Deliver Us from Evil: Amy Berg’s Docu of Father Oliver O’Grady, Notorious Pedophile

Amy Berg’s Deliver Us From Evil is the story of Father Oliver O’Grady, the most notorious pedophile in the history of the modern Catholic Church.

A remorseless, and compulsive, sexual predator, O’Grady used his charm and authority as a religious leader to exploit Catholic families and rape dozens of children across Northern California, both physically and spiritually, over the course of twenty years. His victims ranged from a nine month-old infant to the middle-aged mother of an adolescent victim.

Despite early warning signs and complaints from several parishes, the Church, in an elaborate shell game designed to avoid liability and deflect criticism, lied to parishioners and local law enforcement while continuing to move O’Grady from parish to parish. Yet internal Church documents prove that since 1973, O’Grady raped and sodomized with the full knowledge of his Catholic superiors.

Following OGradys incarceration and deportation, DELIVER US FROM EVIL filmmaker Amy Berg contacted him and, remarkably, persuaded him to participate in the making of her film. Using his chilling testimony as a launching point, Berg exposes the high-level corruption within the Church while she tries to understand why child abuse within this institution, which still occurs today on a global scale, is so rampant.

Berg encourages several of OGradys victims to finally speak out, shedding much-needed light on the horrifying legacy of sexual abuse. Capturing startlingly candid confessions that will break your heart, DELIVER US FROM EVIL charts these survivors continuing struggle to repair their lives, their broken families and their trust in the very institution that continues to betray them. Moving, infuriating and timely, DELIVER US FROM EVIL is the haunting story of those who were robbed of their faithand who are now struggling to reclaim it.

The Subjects

Oliver OGrady Former Catholic priest and convicted pedophile

Bob and Maria Jyono Former friends of OGrady and parents of abuse survivor

Nancy Sloan Abuse survivor

Case and Jane De Groot Former Catholic priest now Pastor and his wife

Father Tom Doyle Canon Law expert

John Manly Plaintiffs attorney

Mary Gail Frawley ODea Clergy abuse psychologist

Jeff Anderson Legal council for several abuse survivors

Pat Wall Theologian

Monsignor Cain Vicar of Stockton

Detective Mike Walker Chief investigator in the Lodi/Stockton cases

Ann Jyono – Abuse survivor

Cardinal Roger Mahony – Archbishop of Los Angeles

Bill Hodgman Deputy District Attorney

Adam M. Abuse survivor

Becky M. Mother of abuse survivor, as well as OGrady victim

Phil M. Father of abuse survivor

Making the Docu

In the course of her work for CBS 30 Minutes of Special Assignment, and later for CNN, filmmaker Amy Berg spent four years investigating pedophile priests. She produced several news stories on the pedophilia scandals within the Los Angeles Archdiocese, and became well acquainted with Cardinal Roger Mahony and the more than 550 priests under his jurisdiction who had abused children without punishment. But nothing quite prepared her for Father Oliver OGrady.

OGradys offenses surpass those of all of his peers. He is a man with little remorse, whose compulsion has shattered family after family. His twenty years of service in the Church were devoted to two activities: leading his community and planning his next molestation. He seduced parents to gain access to their children. He violated boys and girls of all ages. He abused a nine month-old infant.

OGrady was eventually incarcerated and, following the completion of his sentence, deported to Ireland, his birthplace. But Berg, who had been documenting the Churchs unwillingness to release private files on Mahonys offending priests, discovered that not one of OGradys superiors had faced any punishment or public scandal. Cardinal Mahony himself denied having any significant contact with OGrady, though documents proved otherwise. Wanting to hear another side of the story, Berg tracked down OGradys telephone number and called him in Ireland.

Even after several conversations with OGrady, Berg was baffled. He was completely disconnected from the abuse he inflicted, she recalls. He couldnt remember all of the facts. In some cases he wasnt even sure he did anything wrong.

Eventually, after several weekly phone conversations, OGrady agreed to meet with Berg. She flew immediately to Ireland. I wasnt even aware that I would be making a film about this, she admits. I wasnt really scared. I was more curious to meet him. I thought, I have to do this.

She spent five hours with OGrady in the Dublin City Centre. Despite her disgust over OGradys crimes, Berg was surprised to discover a modest and ingratiating man. It was easy to see how so many parents would never have suspected him, she says.

OGrady was forthcoming about his illness and expressed a firm desire to explain himself to his victims. Even more importantly, he was openly critical of Cardinal Mahony and the Churchs Mafia-like practices of perjury, obfuscation and denial. His superiors, OGrady claimed, chose to ignore his condition rather than confront scandal and jeopardize their own career advancement. They continued to re-assign him to new parishes, a tactic that Berg compares to offering an alcoholic more to drink.

Berg instantly recognized in OGrady the potential for a compelling film, but it wasnt until four months later that OGrady called her to say he was willing to go public with his story. After receiving that call, Berg was back in Dublin, shooting ten days worth of interviews with the former priest. Despite the feeling of nausea she felt at the end of the week, Berg felt her efforts were worthwhile. My goal was to shed light on what had been kept hidden for so long, and this was all invaluable information, she says.

Berg continued her research in the United States, amassing as much information as possible about clergy abuse in California. Among many other testimonies, DELIVER US FROM EVIL includes never-before-seen footage of the deposition of Cardinal Roger Mahony and his former second-in-command, Monsignor Cain. Berg also approached a bevy of former priests, lawyers and psychologists, including canon lawyer and medieval historian Fr. Thomas Doyle, in order to better understand the Catholic faith and the psychology of child abuse.

As she struggled to give shape to the complex dynamics of her story, Berg was sure of one thing: there would be no narrator in the documentary. I wanted OGrady and others to speak for themselves. It didnt seem fair to add my opinion, she says. She adds, OGrady is so shocking and real, I couldnt have scripted a better villain. It seemed redundant to make that point using narration.

As a result of Bergs diligence, DELIVER US FROM EVIL offers eye-opening facts about many aspects of clergy abuse. Why, for instance, is the Catholic Church beset with so many pedophiles Because the Church tends to attract poor, disenfranchised children, many of whom are abuse victims themselves, explains Berg. Unlike other priests, these men grow up within the Church, in a repressive environment that denies, and arrests, normal sexual development thereby creating a predisposition for pedophilia.

And what about the preponderance of homosexual pedophiles in the Church Pure spin tactics, says Berg. There are no reports of any kind linking homosexuality to pedophilia. Many offenders abuse both sexes, but the Church resorts to anti-gay propaganda to create a scapegoat. Church superiors continue to mislead both their parishioners and the public, citing obsolete studies on homosexuality from as far back as 1973. These are the same people who tell parishioners around the world that condoms do not prevent HIV infection, says Berg.

While Bergs research led her in many directions, she found the heart of her film at a national support group meeting called SNAP, the Survivor Network for those Abused by Priests. There, she met several of OGradys now-adult victims. Most of the survivors didnt trust me initially because I had spent a week with OGrady, admits Berg. But ultimately they believed in my goal, which was to expose the systemic problems contributing to this epic crisis. They understood that I wanted to show more than one side to this problem.

While many victims refused to participate in Bergs film due to issues of privacy, Berg found several willing participants, among them Ann Jyono and Nancy Sloan. Like most victims of childhood sexual abuse, Jyono and Sloan were still grappling with the psychological ramifications of their trauma. But Berg found they were also reeling from an additional loss: that of their faith.

Explains Berg, For people of deep faith, the Church encompasses their whole social and spiritual existence. Their faith is the bedrock of their entire lives. When parishioners are abused, they lose both their belief system and their church community. The effect is shattering. Theyre cast out, and many of their lives devolve into a pattern of failed relationships, isolation, shame and sometimes even suicide. This cycle of abuse is far deeper and more destructive than anyone would guess from the abuse scandals recounted by newspapers.

Clergy abuse victims have begun picketing their churches; but Bishops and Cardinals will not afford them the opportunity to be heard. Church superiors are terrified of being held accountable. Theyd rather ignore the wrongs the Church has committed than sit down and show any compassion, says Berg. Some of the most appalling moments in DELIVER US FROM EVIL show these superiors denying survivors stories, calling them impossible and untrue, despite stacks of evidence to the contrary.

Despite the fact that the statute of limitations has long since expired on most cases, scores of civil sexual abuse cases are being filed against the Los Angeles Archdiocese. Additionally, the Los Angeles District Attorney has requested the full disclosure of the LA Archdiocese proffers, the priests personnel files that document complaints and misconduct. The Archdiocese has countered these requests with four years of relentless appeals, even though every court, culminating with the United States Supreme Court, has overturned their case. Under Mahonys direction, the Los Angeles Archdiocese spends $2 million dollars a month paying high-priced attorneys to prevent the release of incriminating information, says Berg. These are millions of dollars being spent for their protection, rather than the victims welfare. It shows where their priorities are.

The Church systematically disowns the abuse victims and marginalizes them further, and victims like Jyono and Sloan continue to be betrayed by the institution that they were raised to trust above all else. The resulting sense of isolation is only exacerbated by a skittish, embarrassed public that relishes scandal, but fails to listen to or comprehend the victims perspective. As Berg points out, If we dont listen to those who need to be heard, then we are silently judging them.

Berg hopes that DELIVER US FROM EVIL is part of the solution. Abuse victims light up when they are given the opportunity to speak out and heal, she says. They share a strong need to believe that balance will be restored and that they can change themselves and others. The film is a forum for them to express themselves and move on, and hopefully to give others the courage to do the same.

The proof lies with Ann Jyono. It took Ann twenty-five years before she told her parents about the abuse she suffered at the hands of OGrady. Her father, Bob, had converted to Catholicism in order marry his wife. Now he refuses to set foot in a Catholic church. Ann still sometimes attends mass on Sunday, but she cries through every service. For years, she hasnt been able to visit her parents without bursting into tears.

When Berg finished making DELIVER US FROM EVIL, she received a phone call from Anns father. Bob wears a hearing aid and yelled too loudly into the phone, but Berg could tell he was ecstatic. Amy! Thank you for putting Ann in the film, he cried. Youve changed everything. I have my family back. Ann doesnt cry anymore. She went from a being a victim to being a survivor.

Berg relishes that moment: Thats when I knew we managed to create something of value out of something rotten.