Priest guilty of sexual assaulting schoolboy 36 years ago

A jury took less than two hours to reach a unanimous guilty verdict in the case of a priest sexually assaulting a schoolboy in Cork approximately 36 years ago.

The jury of nine men and three women returned to Courtroom 1 at the courthouse on Washington St, Cork, before 3pm with their unanimous guilty verdict.

The 74-year-old priest had denied indecently assaulting the boy at a school in Co Cork early in the 1980s.

Tadgh O’Dalaigh of Woodview, Mount Merrion Avenue, Blackrock, Dublin, was convicted yesterday at Cork Circuit Criminal Court on a charge of indecently assaulting the boy on an unknown date between September 1, 1980, and January 28, 1981 at the Sacred Heart college, also known as Coláiste An Chroí Naofa, Carraig Na Bhfear, Co Cork.

A victim impact report will now have to be prepared. Prosecution barrister, Siobhán Lankford, said this could be done in a week. Defence senior counsel Shane Costelloe wanted sentencing put back until May to, as he described it, “put forward some kind of mitigation. It is not straightforward in light of previous matters”.

Ms Lankford said the State would be opposed to bail. However, after a brief adjournment in consultation with the defence, she said the State would take the view that, in light of his age and the fact that there had been no issues when on bail heretofore, they would not oppose bail on condition that he stayed away from the victim.

Sentencing will take place on May 11.

The victim was aged around 12 when he was in bed in the sick bay on the evening of the assault.

Ms Lankford said the assault occurred at a time when the accused went in to check the victim’s temperature in the sick bay.

The complainant said: “He put his hand down and touched my testicles and penis. He did that. I just lay there. I didn’t know what to do. It was probably a minute, a minute and a half. That is a long time when he is at me. He stopped. He left. I was left lying there. That is basically what happened.”

He said he did not tell anyone about it until about 30 years later.

Mr Costelloe said: “My client absolutely refutes that. He says that never happened.”

Mr Costelloe said O’Dálaigh was convicted of indecent assault on another boy in the school sickbay but this conviction was quashed by the Court of Criminal Appeal. He said the initial coverage of the accused being convicted of sexually abusing a boy in the sickbay appeared in newspapers, including the Irish Examiner, in June 2014 and that it was three days later that the complainant in the present case went to the gardaí to make his complaint.

“I went because it was being denied [by the defendant] in the paper,” he said. “It made me angry… I read something where he denied something. That spurred me. It made me angry.”

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