Revenge is basis of sex claims, says former priest

A former Catholic priest, who is being sued in the High Court for alleged sexual assault and abuse of a teenager in a school, has claimed revenge is the motivation behind the claims.

The priest, who was a chaplain in the school in the South East, also denied at a school disciplinary hearing any sexual activity of any kind took place, including at the girl’s home when her parents were away; when she was babysitting for a neighbour; in the chaplain’s office; the oratory; or his car.

He told the hearing that at one stage he pleaded with the girl to stop and rejected her by telling her to “fuck off”.

“I wanted to get out from under her clutches,” he said.

The now 28-year old woman has sued, alleging between 2004 and 2007 she was repeatedly and wrongfully physically and sexually assaulted, falsely imprisoned, and sexually abused and subjected to sexualised behaviour by the then Catholic chaplain and teacher in her secondary school. She has sued the priest, as well, as the school in the South East and the local bishop.

They have denied the claims. The school contends it is not vicariously liable for any alleged actions of the priest and contends the diocesan bishop is liable. The woman is also seeking aggravated damages against the former priest.

She has alleged that on a school trip to Gambia when she was aged 16, the chaplain invited her and another student to sleep in his bed with him. The three of them spent the night together in his bed, she has claimed.

The priest, she claims, was very attentive to her on the trip and after that sent her private text messages.

She has also claimed the priest continued to send private text messages to her and they became increasingly personal and sexual in nature. She has alleged the priest bought a mobile phone for the specific purpose of texting her and he allegedly advised her they would wait until she was 17 before they could take the relationship further.

A few days after she turned 17 years, the priest brought the girl and some friends to the cinema and she has claimed when he took her home he kissed her. The woman first made her allegations in 2011.

A transcript of a disciplinary hearing at the school in October 2012 was yesterday read to the High Court.

The man, who left the priesthood a few years ago, told the disciplinary hearing the motivation behind the allegations was “revenge for not going with her”. He also said: “I see obsession all over this.”

Referring to the Gambia allegations, the priest said about 15 students had been picked to go on the school trip. He said he let students use the shower attached to his room, but it was in the context of returning after a day and being covered in red dirt.

“It had nothing to do with anything of a sexual nature,” he said.

On the allegation that the girl and another student had been in his bed with him once in Gambia, he said he woke up and saw somebody beside him and he jumped out of the bed, opened the door and asked them to leave. At no point, he said, were they there at his invitation. He said he had brought students on about 40 trips and nothing like that happened before.

He said he never had sex with the girl or any other student and he also denied he told her he had once gone to the Phoenix Park and had sex with a woman in a car.

“I have only been in the Phoenix Park three times: At the zoo, the Papal Mass and running a marathon,” the transcript read.

The case, before Mr Justice Robert Eagar, continues today.

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