Priest took teen boy into his bed

FR RONAT had an “obsessive and unhealthy” relationship with a teenage boy whom he used to take to sporting events but was also taking into his bed.

The boy’s mother first reported concerns to then child protection delegate in the Diocese of Cloyne, Monsignor Denis O’Callaghan, in 1996.

She said Fr Ronat was a friend and she saw him as a father figure to her son, given the pseudonym Matthew, until she saw him kissing the boy on the back of his neck.

Mgr O’Callaghan told the commission of inquiry that there was “no evidence of any sexual abuse.” But he added: “However, the relationship does seem to have been obsessive and unhealthy.”

He admitted he should have consulted the health board but instead all he did was tell Fr Ronat that the boy’s mother wanted him to stay away from her son.

Fr Ronat was outraged and said he would get Matthew to sign an affidavit saying that nothing improper had occurred.

The report notes: “Nothing further was done. There was no meeting of the advisory committee and no reference of the complaint to the gardaí or the health board.”

This was in breach of the procedures set out in the church’s framework document on handling abuse allegations.

Matthew made a complaint seven years later. He told Mgr O’Callaghan he had been taken into Fr Ronat’s bed and that the priest had been sexually aroused.

Fr Ronat admitted the boy had been in his bed but denied inappropriate behaviour and threatened to sue Matthew. Mgr O’Callaghan told Fr Ronat he would have to be withdrawn from ministry but this did not happen.

Bishop John Magee said he heard of the complaints in 2003 and did not remove Fr Ronat because he did not have concrete proof of anything untoward. The monsignor reported the complaint to gardaí, but said: “The behaviour complained of would not amount to child sex abuse.”

Matthew was interviewed by gardaí. The report states: “The commission does not accept that there was any investigation after the initial taking of the statement”.

“When the Commission uncovered Matthew’s statement in 2009, a file was submitted to the DPP but he directed that no prosecution be brought.”

Neither Matthew nor his mother were made aware of other complaints about Fr Ronat.

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