Priest’s life ‘torn apart’ by child rape accusation

On May 23 last year Fr Kevin Reynolds had his life and reputation torn apart when a high profile television investigation branded him a child rapist.

Prime Time Investigates said his victim, who he met while working as a missionary in Kenya, had a child as a result of his abuse. And it said he secretly transferred money to cover the parenting costs.

RTÉ has since accepted all of these allegations were false and the programme should never have been aired. It has apologised to Fr Reynolds, a priest of 40 years, and it has paid him compensation believed to have been in excess of €1m.

The allegations were first put to him outside his church in Ahascragh, Galway, on May 7, 2011. Reporter Aoife Kavanagh approached Fr Reynolds after a Communion Mass he officiated at and laid out the allegations.

He denied them. He immediately got his solicitors involved. The solicitors wrote to RTÉ on May 11.

In a bid to convince the programme makers, he offered to take a paternity test to prove the child, Sheila, was not his.

He pleaded with RTÉ not to air the investigation.

Fr Reynolds became an outcast as soon as the show went to air. He was removed from his ministry, had to leave his house and suffered the suspicion of those who knew him.

His decision to sue RTÉ, for the effect it had on his reputation set in motion a legal challenge that brought about the paternity test he offered to give when he was confronted. This showed Fr Reynolds was not the father of Sheila and had not raped a child in Kenya.

RTÉ apologised in November and aired a court-ordered correction notice.

“His life was utterly altered and he was removed from his home and his community,” RTÉ said.

Fr Reynolds had returned to his parish the previous month and in emotional scenes he was embraced by his parishioners when the outcome of his case became public. The priest has since said he did not want to see anybody fired for the mistakes made, but conceded his life will never be the same again.

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