Ex-priest's lawyer in US says his prison treatment 'is cruel'


A FORMER priest awaiting extradition to Ireland for alleged sex crimes is being subjected to cruel treatment in an American prison, according to his US attorney.

Attorney Robert Beles yesterday condemned the prison system that has housed former priest Patrick McCabe (74) in an isolation unit in “freezing” conditions at the Santa Rita complex in Alameda, California, since July 30th last year.

“He is in isolation and he’s freezing and his health is very bad. The jail is cold and when you’re 70 years old, it makes it all the more difficult. I have had complaints from young men housed at the jail that it’s too cold, so for someone like him, who is in ill-health and has poor circulation, it’s extremely difficult.

“He is suffering and I think people in Ireland would not approve of how he is being treated in the US. It is cruel.”

Mr McCabe suffers from diabetes and a range of other health issues that require regular medical supervision. Mr Beles has questioned whether he can get suitable care in prison. He has been on suicide watch for some months although Mr Beles insisted his client is not suicidal.

Mr McCabe has been refused bail since he handed himself into authorities last July following an extradition request from Ireland.

The lengthy extradition process took a significant step towards completion yesterday when the district court in Alameda rejected an appeal against an earlier court ruling that he should be sent to Ireland to face trial.

Mr Beles vowed to continue fighting the extradition order and will now take the case to the Ninth Circuit Court, the final appeal option. If that fails, secretary of state Hillary Clinton will be asked to rubber-stamp the extradition, although that could take some months.

The objection to extradition rests on the argument that if Mr McCabe were accused on similar grounds in America, he could not be tried because the statute of limitations there has run out.

He is wanted in Ireland to face charges of sexually abusing six boys while working at a Dublin diocese in the 1970s and early 1980s.

He moved to a parish in California in the late 1980s before leaving the priesthood.

Two men have filed suits against his former parish in Eureka, California, alleging they were abused by him.