Priest not guilty of indecent assault

RETIRED priest Fr Daniel Duane was found not guilty yesterday on a charge of indecently assaulting a 14-year-old girl 31 years ago.

Fr Duane put his head down on the front barrier of the dock at Courtroom 1 in Cork Circuit Criminal Court and wept as the verdict was handed down.

The jury of five women and seven men returned their unanimous verdict after 85 minutes of deliberation at the end of a four-day trial.

The complainant broke down in tears as the verdict was given. She collapsed as she left the court and was supported to her feet by friends. She was highly distressed as she left the courthouse on Washington Street.

The jury had come back into court halfway through their deliberations with a number of questions. They wanted to know the date on which the woman first made her complaint to gardaí and the date on which she ins-tructed her solicitor to make a claim for compensation.

They were told that she told the gardaí in June 2009 and instructed her solicitor in October 2009.

The woman, who is now in her mid-40s, told the jury that Fr Duane whispered to her that God would approve as he put his fingers into her vagina. The defendant totally denied this and said she had invented this story.

At one stage, while giving evidence to the court, the complainant turned directly to the accused and said: “I live with those nightmares. Look at what you have done to my life.”

Fr Duane, aged 73, was in the witness box yesterday at Cork Circuit Criminal Court where he denied indecently assaulting a female on some date between April and September 1980 at his house at the time in Belleview, Mallow.

The defendant now resides at Cecilstown, Mallow, Co Cork.

James O’Mahony, the defendant’s senior counsel, put it to the accused: “She said in the summer of 1980 you indecently assaulted her.”

Mr Duane replied: “I have no recollection of that meeting.”

Mr O’Mahony cross-examined the complainant, saying that she had told gardaí that Duane put his finger into her and that in the trial she was telling the jury it was his fingers, plural.

She replied: “No matter what way you try to twist it, at 14 he violated me, he put his fingers inside me, he changed my life. I live with those nightmares.”

Raising her voice, she turned to the defendant and said: “Look what you have done to my life.”

She continued: “He was a priest. He was the same age as my father. This shame does not belong to me. The question you are asking me is did he put one finger or two fingers inside me. He violated me.”

The defence lawyer said: “You did not say (in statement to gardaí two years ago) that he said God would approve. That is an embellishment you are adding today.”

She replied: “None of these were embellishments. No matter what way you try to turn it he did this to me in his frontroom. He changed my life forever no matter what way you want to turn or twist this.”

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