Paedophile priest praised for ‘change of heart’

A sentencing judge has welcomed a paedophile and former Christian Brother’s “substantial change of heart” after he pleaded guilty for the first time to sex assaults on two pupils at the North Monastery secondary school in Cork.

Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin referred to the 30 months already being served by Edward Bryan, 62, for the sexual abuse of three other students — charges on which he was convicted by a jury after his denials — and imposed a concurrent one-year sentence yesterday.

“Edward Bryan has pleaded guilty to counts of indecent assault on two young boys when he was a teacher in a school here in the city,” said the judge. “Aggravating factors are the age difference and he was in a position of authority. He abused that trust in authority.

“A significant difference is his present attitude and the fact that he has pleaded guilty. That to me is a huge change and a change for the better.

“It is a public vindication that the accused is wrong, that the victims are vindicated in what they said and that the complaints they made were right and he was wrong, for the first time ever. It is some level of insight and remorse that was never there before, indicative of a substantial change of heart to be welcomed.”

Judge Ó Donnabháin said he recognised the value to the victim of the accused pleading guilty to the crimes.

Detective Sergeant Vincent O’Sullivan outlined the background to the assaults in the 1980s. Both of the teenagers were being coached after school in sports when the crimes were committed.

In the first case, the student was training for kayaking and was being coached by Bryan who told him that rubbing against the canoe could give him a rash. Bryan advised the boy to strip naked so Bryan could rub cream into his body, including his genital area.

“He could feel Edward Bryan breathing heavily behind him in his left ear,” the detective said.

The second boy was staying back for extra individual basketball training. Similarly he was asked to strip naked and in this instance lie on the floor with the Christian Brother, also naked, lying on top of him rubbing his penis against his thighs. He used a towel to rub the boy in the genital area.

Brendan Kelly defence barrister said: “He has instructed me to apologise profusely to the victims for any harm caused to them over the years. He apologises to his family and to the order [Christian Brothers] for any disrepute he has brought to them.”

Bryan, of Martinvilla, Athboy Rd, Trim, Co Meath, was not in Cork Circuit Criminal Court last month for sentencing, as the prosecution said he had attempted suicide at his home.

One of the victims did not want his victim impact statement read in court and it was given to the judge yesterday.

The other injured party said previously: “The sexual abuse inflicted on me that evening left me feeling scared, confused and ultimately embarrassed to the point where I never confided with anyone about what had occurred until recently.

“As a result of your abuse, I felt that you took that element of trust from me which has had a detrimental effect on my further life, in being unable to place my trust in people and feeling paranoid in regard to what their true intentions were.

“I have carried around the shame of his sexual abuse for my entire adult life, never addressing it and always shutting it away from my memories out of embarrassment. I suppose I would say that you have stolen a moment of my life that I can never have back and will always have a resounding effect on my life.

“I hope he recognises and appreciates the effects his actions have had on me. I appreciate your admission of guilty not having this matter go through a trial process.”


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