A 75-year-old former Christian Brother who admitted to indecently assaulting six pupils at two different Dublin schools more than 40 years ago has been jailed for 12 months at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.
Diarmuid Ó Luanaigh, with an address at Bettyglen, Raheny pleaded guilty to 10 sample charges of indecent assault of the children in two schools on dates between September 1965 and April 1972.
Judge Katherine Delahunt said that the abuse perpetrated by the former maths teacher had “travelled with” his victims, despite the age of the offences.
She said the court noted that Ó Luanaigh had not come to garda attention since leaving the order in 1972, and that he had proffered a plea of guilty.
Judge Delahunt said that a report from the Granada Institute had identified Ó Luanaigh as being at a low risk of reoffending and that after intensive psychotherapy he now understood the seriousness of his offences.
However, Judge Delahunt said the court also had regard to the seriousness of the offences and that Ó Luanaigh’s plea was given at a very late stage.
In handing down 10 concurrent 12-month sentences, Judge Delahunt said that Ó Luanaigh had abused a number of children over a number of years while in a position of power, trust and responsibility at both schools.
Garda Michael Lally told Mr Patrick McGrath BL, prosecuting, that Ó Luanaigh worked as a primary level maths teacher in one school where four of the assaults took place between September 1965 and June 1972.
One victim told gardaí that, while he was between the ages of eight and 10, Ó Luanaigh would call him to the front of the class, sit him on his knee, and touch him inappropriately.
The victim said that other children present in class could not see the abuse and that he believed he was getting special treatment from Ó Luanaigh for being a good pupil.
The man said that it was only when he reached adolescence that he realised that what had occurred was wrong and that he gained the courage to tell his story decades later after having viewed a television programme uncovering abuse in the Catholic Church.
Gda Lally told Mr McGrath that when Ó Luanaigh, who was known as Brother Cyril, became principle of a secondary school in 1970, he continued to abuse children in the classroom as well as those he coached after taking charge of the school football team.
One victim told gardaí that Ó Luanaigh would call him in to a darkened room and tell him his trouser buttons were loose. Ó Luanaigh would then pull the victim close to him and fondle his private parts.
In a victim impact report, the man detailed how he became withdrawn, anxious and depressed after having suffered the abuse and that he had tried to report Ó Luanaigh to the Church authorities with no success.
Other victims told gardaí that Ó Luanaigh would put his hands in their pockets under the pretext of searching for cigarettes and that he told children not to wear any underwear under their shorts while playing football.
Their collected victim impact reports told of “unsettled” lives and of difficulty in reporting the abuse because of the high esteem in which Christian Brothers were held in Irish society.
Gda Lally agreed with Mr Hugh Hartnett SC, defending, that Ó Luanaigh has lead “a blameless life” since leaving the Christian brothers in 1972.
Mr Hartnett told the court that Ó Luanaigh, who went on to marry and have three children after reneging his vows of his own volition, had profusely apologised to his victims and that has expressed a high degree of remorse.
He said that Ó Luanaigh, who was placed on the sex offenders register in June, joined the Christian Brothers at the age of 13 and was effectively isolated from the outside world until adulthood.
Mr Hartnett said that Ó Luanaigh, who kept his eyes closed while evidence was heard in the case, also suffered with stress and depression and had a heart difficulty.
He described the case as “one of the oldest” to come before the courts in 10 or 15 years.