Ex-priest a ‘predator’ who engaged in serial abuse at school, court hears

A former priest who indecently assaulted two boys at a school he worked in and where he was in charge of the welfare of all pupils was yesterday described as a “predator” who had engaged in serial abuse.

Dundalk Circuit Criminal Court was also told that the 61-year-old accused had also been abused himself when he was a pupil in the same school.

The now laicised accused cannot be identified for legal reasons.

He admitted six offences against one of the victims and one against the other. They were contrary to section 62 of the Offences Against the State Act and section 7 of Common Law. The maximum penalty for an offence is 2 years.

The court heard both had been pupils at the school when the offences took place on dates in 1982, 1983 and 1984.

The six offences against the one pupil took place when he was aged between 12 and 14 years and at various locations in the school.

They involved the then priest masturbating the boy and telling him this would stop him for having to go to hospital to be circumcised and would prevent problems with him having sex later in life.

The single offence against the other boy also related to him masturbating the then 13-year-old on the school grounds.

Kevin Segrave, prosecuting said, the accused was responsible for ensuring the smooth running of the school and he was acting in locus parentis when they were in school.

Mr Segrave did not read out victim impact reports but they were handed to the judge who was also told that one of the victims was in court. The other had no wish to be present.

Both victims had therapy and treatment to deal with the impact of the abuse, Mr Segrave said.

In reply to Mr Derek Kenneally, defending, Garda Sergeant Niall Gillooly, of Dundalk, agreed the accused had voluntarily gone to Dundalk Garda Station and had admitted the offences.

Mr Kenneally said the accused “was abused while a student at the same school”. It was his job to look after the day to day welfare of all pupils and he is deeply remorseful and regretful for his behaviour. He has since undergone therapy and is assessed as being at low-risk of re-offending.

He is now laicised and lives on his own in Munster.

Passing sentence Judge Michael O’Shea said the accused had been in a “position of trust and authority” while the victims were “in a vulnerable and isolated situation”.

In relation to the 6 counts against one boy, the judge said this was “serial and systematic abuse,” and his behaviour was “the act of a predator who was ina dominating position”.

He imposed 18-month custodial sentences on each of the 7 counts.

They are to run concurrently and he placed him on the sex offenders register for 10 years.


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