Priest cleared of sex abuse

An elderly priest on trial for the alleged sexual assault of a schoolboy during sex education in a school office was found not guilty yesterday.

Judge Gerard O’Brien thanked the jury at Cork Circuit Criminal Court and discharged them from further jury service for a period of two years ,stating that it had been a difficult case.

The priest said during the three-day trial in Cork: “I never touched him sexually, improperly — never.”

The complainant said he was in third year in school when he was called to the priest’s office for sex education. He said the priest masturbated him.

He said: “I can clearly remember one of the questions — when a man gets an erection what caused it?”

He said after the defendant asked him this he masturbated the boy and that this occurred in the mid-1970s.

Tom Creed SC, defending, asked the priest: “Did you ever give instruction in sex education?” The priest replied: “Never.”

Asked about the abuse of the complainant by another priest in the school, the defendant: “I was shocked, appalled and saddened.”

Mr Creed said the complainant blamed the priest in the present case for turning a blind eye on the activities of the convicted priest, though he allegedly knew what was going on.

The priest replied: “Absolutely incorrect. I state that categorically, emphatically.”

Cross-examined by Donal McCarthy, prosecuting, the defendant said that he could be asked about his memory of particular dates and times but he said events might be forgotten but he would never forget values.

The accused initially went on trial on seven indecent assault charges. In respect of five counts Judge O’Brien directed the jury to record not guilty verdicts . The jury reached a majority verdicts on two charges yesterday.


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