The priest on trial for a sex assault on a teenage boy in the sick bay of a boarding school in 1979 told the jury he had admitted sexually assaulting 10 other boys, but that he did not touch the complainant.
Prosecution barrister Pearse Sreenan asked the former dean of discipline at the school in Carraig na bhFear, Co Cork, Tadhg O’Dalaigh, 70, of Woodview, Mount Merrion Avenue, Blackrock, Dublin, how he could remember all of the boys given that there were so many.
“Did you keep a diary?” Mr Sreenan asked.
“No I did not keep a diary,” O’Dalaigh replied. “I would prefer to plead guilty [if it had happened] and move on, get the thing over and done with, but I did not, I did not touch him... I don’t know if he was abused or not, but I certainly did not abuse him.”
Mr Sreenan said, by O’Dalaigh’s own admission, he abused 10 boys, the last in 1984, and by 1995 he was able to identify every one of them. The barrister asked how he could remember.
“You would feel very, very guilty about it,” the accused said. “You would be conscious of being kind to them. It would not be the event and finished with it, it would be making efforts not to antagonise them in any way so they won’t make any complaint.”
Mr Sreenen said it was like what was commonly called grooming and the defendant agreed.
O’Dalaigh said all 10 children that he admitted abusing had been by masturbation, in that he had rubbed their genital areas. In respect of the 10 children he admitted abusing he pleaded guilty to indecent assault in relation to two of them.
Mr Sreenan said in respect of one of that group of 10 injured parties, “You masturbated one of them when he was sick?”
O’Dalaigh said: “No, He had been sick, he was not sick, he was in sick bay, he would have been leaving the sick bay the following morning. He had been sick earlier. He was recovered.”
Mr Sreenan said he could not remember the complainant in the present trial because he had abused so many children.
“I certainly would remember children who were sick. I certainly would not abuse him,” O’Dalaigh said.
Mr Sreenan said: “Your concern was not with his health or his temperature, your concern was your personal gratification.”
The defendant said the boy he admitted abusing in the sick bay was better at the time and his temperature was normal.
“You would take his temperature before abusing him. If you wanted to sexually gratify yourself the last thing you would do is take out your thermometer,” Mr Sreenan said.
The barrister accused the priest of minimising the abuse in 1995 and either not being able to or not wanting to remember what he had done to the complainant in the present case.
O’Dalaigh said: “I did not abuse him at any time.”
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