An elderly priest on trial for the alleged sexual assault on a schoolboy during sex education instruction in a school office testified yesterday, “I never touched him sexually, improperly — never.”
The complaint said he was in third year in school, in the mid-1970s, when he was called to the priest’s office for sex education. He said the priest masturbated him.
The defendant, who is not named for legal reasons, told Judge Gerard O’Brien and the jury at Cork Circuit Criminal Court it did not happen.
Tom Creed, defending, said, “You have heard the allegations that you sexually molested him.” He replied, “I never molested Mr (name)”.
Mr Creed put it to the defendant about where the complainant said the office was located. The defendant said the room had another name and was for storage of mattresses and sports gear. “That room was never dignified with the name of office,” he said.
“Did you ever give instruction in sex education?” Mr Creed asked. The priest replied, “Never.”
Asked about the sexual abuse of the same complainant by another priest in the school, who pleaded guilty to charges, the defendant in this case said, “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 even though he allegedly knew what was going on. The defendant 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.
Mr McCarthy said that at the time of the events complained of, the other priest who was since convicted of abuse, presumably shared the same values. The defendant replied “That is his problem, not mine.” Mr McCarthy suggested that values could be put aside.
Two former pupils at the school told of getting on well with the defendant. Mr McCarthy asked them if they had the kind of problems the complainant had with the other priest — since convicted of sexual assaults on the same complainant. They replied that they had not, except to say they did not have much dealings with that man and that he was cranky.
The trial continues on Monday on two counts of indecent assault. In respect of five other counts, Judge O’Brien directed the jury to record verdicts of not guilty by direction of the judge following legal submissions in their absence.
The two remaining charges relate to the alleged indecent assault during sex education and another alleged incident of fondling the complainant’s genitals when he was in bed.
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