Priest, 86, on trial for alleged indecent assault on boy 50 years ago


An 86-year-old priest was put on trial yesterday on indecent assault charges where a man testified that 50 years ago — when he was a 12-year-old boy — the priest put his hand into his underpants and fondled his genitals.

The defendant pleaded not guilty to six charges of indecent assault, which allegedly occurred on unspecified dates between September 1969 and June 1971.

The case commenced before Judge Brian O’Callaghan and a jury of nine men and three women.

It is anticipated that the jury at Cork Circuit Criminal Court will deliberate on the charges today on their verdicts .

The complainant told Judge Brian O’Callaghan in his evidence in respect of the six alleged incidents of indecent assault: “To the best of my memory, 12 times this happened to me.”

Tom Creed, defending, asked the accused of his response to the allegations. The 86-year-old said: “I state categorically and without any qualification that what [complainant’s name] alleged is totally untrue with regard to me. I never touched him or any person, male or female, in a wrong sexual manner. If, after 50 years, he thinks — he honestly thinks so — then he is gravely mistaken.”

The complainant told Brendan Kelly, prosecuting, that he was indecently assaulted by the priest when he was aged around 12 and in first year in the school.

“I was a very naïve young lad growing up. [Defendant’s name] came to me [in the sickbay in school] and he asked me how I was feeling. He took my temperature. He put his hand on my forehead. He said: ‘Conas atá tú [name in Irish]?’ Hand on my chest.

“He put his hand down inside my [pants] and fondled me there for a few minutes. He put his hand on my genitalia and my penis and he went off. It would have taken two or three minutes, maybe four.

“I was shocked that this happened to me… There were other incidents. You would be in the sickbay. He would come in, all smiles: ‘Conas atá tú [name]?’ Hand on your head, hand on your chest, and then drop inside [pants] and fondle testicles and penis. That is what happened to me as a 12-year-old. This happened to me over 12 times in a period of two years.”

Referring to the fact that it allegedly happened 50 years ago, the complainant said it was at a time when people placed a lot of trust in the clergy.

Mr Creed said: “What you describe never happened. That would be his [the defendant’s] evidence.”

The complainant replied: “All I can say is I did not come up here 50 years after this event, I did not come here for a day out. I will take it to my grave what happened to me. I stand over what I said. I am here today to say what happened to me.”

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