Scout master abused boys in Garda station

A former garda and scout master abused boys when he was in charge of a troop for disabled children, a court has heard.

The evidence was heard at Limerick Circuit Court yesterday where John Joseph (Jack) Dunne, formerly based at Pearse St Garda Station in Dublin, pleaded guilty to 14 counts of indecent assault on young boys in Dublin between 1963 and 1969.

The court heard that two of Dunne’s victims were polio sufferers whom he recruited through his work with disabled scouts.

The now 82-year-old, who lives at Cannon Breen Park, Thomondgate, Limerick, indecently assaulted two victims at Pearse St Station, where he worked as juvenile liaison officer, while other indecent assaults took place at scout camps in Dublin and Waterford, and in his car after he dropped the boys home from scout meetings.

In evidence, Sgt Martin Philips from the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation said Dunne left the force in 1976 when he was the subject of allegation of indecency but no charges were brought.

A native of Limerick City, Dunne was a scout master from 1953 to 1976 and involved with a special group for disabled children at a scout hall near Pearse St, which was then known as Westland Roe.

Judge Carroll Moran was told the abuse first came to light following the publication of the Ryan Report in 2009 when one of Dunne’s victim’s contacted gardaí.

In his victim impact statement the now 58-year-old, who contracted polio as an infant, recalled how he met Dunne while on a train to Knock with the Polio Fellowship of Ireland.

He said the former garda was the scout leader with a group of disabled scouts from Dublin and invited the 10-year-old to join the troop when they got back to Dublin.

The victim, who has been in a wheelchair for four years, said he was first abused by Dunne during an overnight stay in the scout den, when Dunne put his hand down his pyjamas and started touching his private parts.

The victim also recalled incidents of abuse where he was kissed and fondled during a trip to the cinema and on another occasion in Phoenix Park when he was giving him a lift home from the scouts.

“Jack Dunne was in a position of trust, he was a scout leader, a garda, a person of power. He abused that power and hid behind his so called good works. I now see him as a bad person who used that trust and his position to gain access to young boys,” said the victim.

Another victim, now aged 56, told the court he met Dunne through his hospitalisation for polio which he contracted.

In his victim impact statement he called the former garda a paedophile and claimed Dunne had visited a particular ward at a children’s hospital in Dublin “especially to recruit new victims”.

He said he was abused by Dunne in his car near his home in Dublin, and also in Pearse St Garda Station and at the annual scout camp: “He [Dunne] had free access everywhere he went no body questioned his word… he was seen as the good garda looking after the poor little handicapped kids.”

The court heard Dunne met his two other victims, two brothers from Dublin, at a swimming gala organised by the scouts.

Dunne brought one of the boys to play snooker in Pearse St Station and cooked him a fry, then put his hand down his pants and fondled his penis.

Defence counsel Mark Nicholas said his client’s behaviour was “disgraceful and unforgivable” but said Dunne, who joined a religious order after he left the gardaí, had sought help for his problems in the US 20 years ago.

The court heard he joined the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament in 1977 and following advice from his superiors went to seek help for his problems at Trinity House in Chicago in 1992.

Mr Nicholas said the abuse involving the four victims had come to light as a “down stream effect of the Ryan Report” when people got the strength to come forward and that his client had made early admissions.

Judge Moran was told Dunne had one previous conviction for indecent assault on a 12-year-old boy in 1986 for which he received the Probation Act.

The judge adjourned sentencing until Jan 18.

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