New York Court Overturns Conviction of Methodist Clergyman
The conviction of a United Methodist clergyman found guilty in a 1986 child sexual abuse case has been overturned by the Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court.
The indictment against the Rev. Nathaniel Grady, Sr. – who served more than 10 years in prison before being released in July, 1996, pending an appeal – also has been dismissed and the records of his case sealed, according to Joel Rudin, his attorney.
"In the eyes of the law, he's now as innocent as he has always been in the eyes of those who know him," Rudin said during a Sept. 29 press conference at Christ United Methodist Church here.
Grady was 46 years old and a respected Bronx pastor when charges of rape, sexual abuse and sodomy of five boys and girls at a day care center attached to his church were brought against him in 1984.
His case was one of five initiated at the time against workers at city-funded day care centers by Mario Merola, the then-Bronx district attorney. Since then, Merola's methods and political ambitions have been called into question, along with the lack of conventional evidence. Convictions in the other four cases all were overturned on appeal.
"Sometimes the law catches up with common sense," said Rudin, who served as attorney on four of the five appeals.
Flanked by his wife Pearl, United Methodist Bishop Ernest Lyght of the New York Area and a number of clergy supporters, Grady thanked God for "setting the prisoner free" and expressed his gratitude for the support of his wife and family, the church and his attorney.
Although he admitted to periods of despair over his 13-year ordeal, "I always believed that sooner or later I would be vindicated.
"I'm not bitter," he said. "I'm not angry, because out of the experience I learned so much about those men and women who are in prison in this state."
Grady, who worked as a chaplain while incarcerated, currently is building a program to connect the church with ex-offenders. He also has preached in about 80 pulpits since his release.