The Shame of Ireland

The Shame of Ireland

Ireland won't give up priest accused of sex abuse Court refuses extradition for cleric

The Irish High Court ruled this week that it would not extradite a Catholic priest to stand trial in Arizona on two felony counts of sexual conduct with a minor.

Patrick Oliver Colleary is accused of having sex with a teenage boy in 1978, while Colleary was a priest at a church in Scottsdale. But he was not charged until 2003, after he had already returned to Ireland.

In a rambling 37-page decision released Wednesday, Judge Phillip O'Sullivan of the Irish High Court noted that the case would probably be thrown out of Irish courts because the charges were filed 25 years after the alleged crimes took place.

He also stated that Arizona's practice of denying bond to certain accused sex offenders violated rights under the Irish Constitution, and that prior newspaper coverage would endanger Colleary's chances of getting a fair trial.

Furthermore, O'Sullivan feared that Colleary would be sent to a Maricopa County jail and kept under inhumane conditions that included wearing pink underwear.

Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas called the ruling "arrogant."

"The Irish government has no right to dictate to the people of Arizona how to prosecute people who are accused of committing serious crimes in our state," he said in a prepared statement.

But Colleary's Phoenix lawyer, Bruce Feder, called it "the right decision."

"It should send a message to law enforcement officials in this state and this country," he said. "When our allies look at our justice system and have what appear to be fair criticisms, maybe they should re-examine some of the things we're doing in our legal system."

A spokeswoman for the County Attorney's Office said that Thomas would look into appealing the decision, but the High Court's ruling included a permanent injunction against future extradition attempts.

O'Sullivan had originally planned to make his ruling in April, but postponed it after photographs of pink-underwear-clad jail inmates relocating to a new Maricopa County jail appeared in Irish newspapers. In Wednesday's rulings, O'Sullivan described Sheriff Joe Arpaio as "a man gloating over the inhumane treatment in his jails," and called his remarks "sadistic." Furthermore, he remarked on the "obvious sexual connotation" of the jail's trademark pink underwear.

Arpaio excoriated the court for basing its findings on media reports instead of first-hand investigation of his jails.

"It's the most asinine, stupid, laughable reason in history to say he doesn't like the pink underwear," Arpaio said. "That's going to change extradition and international law because of pink underwear?"
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